Charlotte Harris Rees’ opinion on the 1418 map
Opinion of Charlotte Harris Rees on the 1418 map.
Although this map may seem shockingly modern for 1418 – based on my research it is what I would expect a Chinese map of that era to be. However, I have only seen a picture of this 1418 map. Others will have to fully authentic it. One thing we do know is that Chinese of that era had maps and that most of those maps were purposely destroyed during a period of China’s shut down from the world. That a map escaped the burnings and a later copy of it is now found seems plausible to me. . (The fact that my tax records from 20 years ago no longer exist does not prove that they never existed. Likewise, if I find my W-2 from 20 years ago, it does not mean that I just invented it.)
In my speech at the Library of Congress in May 2005 I related that Chinese in 2200 B.C. wrote in the Shan Hai Jing (believed to be the world’s oldest geography) of a beautiful land to the east of China called Fu Sang. Though some believed that land to be mythical, many of the descriptions from the Shan Hai Jing fit the Americas. Tong Fan Tso (who lived around the third century B.C.) stated that Fu Sang is 3300 miles wide, is bounded by vast oceans, and has huge trees. That is almost the exact width of America. How could someone in China that long ago have known this unless they had been here?
In 1972 my late father, Dr. Hendon Harris, found a primitive map in classical Chinese in an antique shop in Korea. This map shows precisely where Fu Sang is and we believe that it is America. We also believe that this map also shows the Grand Canyon and Mt. McKinley. Father wrote an 800 page book The Asiatic Father of America- which I have recently abridged. That book shows that Chinese made numerous trips to Fu Sang over the centuries. One such account of a trip to Fu Sang exists in Chinese Imperial Court records Kuen 327 from the fifth century A.D.
Father believed that his map was a descendent of the long lost map that originally accompanied the Shan Hai Jing. Seventy two per cent of the place names on it come from the Shan Hai Jing and father believed that the other names (none newer than eleventh century) were added over the years in the many times that it was copied.
Much evidence exists on both sides of the Pacific that not only did Chinese come but that they came by sea. The prevailing currents in the Pacific naturally bring a boat or a log from Asia to America. Why would they trudge through snow when they could float over? Archaeological digs on both side of the Pacific have revealed many items that originated on the opposite shore. Chinese writing of the 2000 B.C. style was discovered in Colorado. Multiple writings of Chinese 1100 B.C. style were found in Mexico and Colorado. Peanuts – native to the Americas -were in two different Chinese digs dating back to 3300-2800 B.C. Bison bones were found in an ancient Chinese tomb.
It has been firmly established the Zheng He had immense five decked ships during his voyages that begin in 1405. No navy starts with ships that large. There is a natural progression from small ships to large. Chinese tradition indicates that they had seaworthy boats from 2500 B.C. Yong Su of Sui dynasty (581-617 A.D.) built ships with five decks that could carry 800. What were all those ships doing over the centuries? They were not sitting in the harbors. They were exploring the world.- mapping as they went.
The Chinese language is full of geographical symbols of great antiquity. The character for river is a graph of flowing water the character for mountain is a sketch of a mountain with three peaks. Chinese have been drawing maps from very early time. In the Former Han period (202 B.C. – 9 A.D.) the Director General of the Masses, Ta Ssu Tu had the job of preparing maps of the feudal principalities. Directors of Regions were placed in charge of maps of the empire.
Throughout Chinese history there are accounts of maps and the importance of map-making. It is not logical that the same people who meticulously mapped at home did not also make maps of their travels At the same time there are many hints in European maps of the 15th and 16th century of Chinese influence. Not only are Chinese junks shown on several maps but European maps show parts of the Americas, including the west coasts, before their explorers had even been there. They had to get that information from someone who had been there.
I started research three years ago as a skeptic – trying to validate my father’s map collection. Father died of a stroke in 1981. For years the maps were under my brother’s bed. After Gavin Menzies book came out I decided it was time that we determined if what father contended was correct. Of father’s seven children the lot fell to me.
The journey has taken me on repeated trips to the Library of Congress where the maps have been for the past three years. Dr. John Hebert, Chief of Maps and Geography has been a true friend as well as Dr. Hwa-Wei Lee, chief of the Asian Division there.
My mentor, Dr. Cyclone Covey professor emeritus of Wake Forest, has been most encouraging. I have gathered much information and met many interesting people. In the process I have come to agree with father’s premise and have found much other recent information that supports his theories. I have almost completed a book based on my own research. My book also includes an account of father’s very unusual life.
My recent studies have centered on the Fu Sang animals as described in the Shan Hai Jing. The descriptions are strange because they were written so long ago. Some are surely mythical but several animals native only to the Americas have been identified. They include opossum, armadillo, peccary, coyote, bald eagle, elephant seal, and appaloosa.
From my research I believe that Chinese knew the Americas very well by 1418 and could have made this remarkable map. Unfortunately for the Chinese, their worldwide voyages ended abruptly leaving the Americas to be colonized a couple of hundred years later by the Europeans. National Geographic, Sept. 2004 stated that there were 30 million Indians here when Columbus arrived. Who were they? Seventy Indian tribes recently tested have ancient Asian DNA. Are the Indians descendents of previous colonists from the Orient?
Charlotte Harris Rees is an heir to the Dr. Hendon M. Harris map collection. She is a graduate of Columbia International University. She has been on talk radio, has appeared on television, and contributed to news articles that appeared both in the U.S. and in China concerning the early arrival of Chinese to America. Mrs. Rees is an historical researcher and author and was a speaker at the Zheng He Symposium at the Library of Congress in May 2005.
Charlotte Harris Rees