Professor Zhiqiang Zhang – Zheng He reached Australia. Translation by Juntao Li
Finally I have understood the “Zheng He’s Fleets Nautical Chart”
Zheng He’s Fleets Had Reached Australia Before 1450
by Professor Zhiqiang Zhang
After “decoding” that the names of places in the coastal area on the “Zheng He Nautical Chart”Aare respectively “ Ji’er’wa ”, “ Suo’fa’la” and “Ma’er’jia’shi” (translator note: sounds in Chinese with ’separating each character), I deduced that “Malindi” on the Chart is not in Kenya, nor in Tanzania, but at the south tip of Africa. At that time, I was taking a tumble(meaning suddenly realized something). Actually there were three places all with the name of Malindi along the south-east coast of Africa in early 15th century. Zheng He’s Fleets not only had been to Somalia, Mozambique, Madagascar, but also had been to Malindi at the south tip of South Africa. This indeed shows that Zheng He’s Fleets had been to the south tip of Africa more than half a century earlier than the Portuguese navigators. The Nautical Chart itself is the evidence. I couldn’t help jumping joyfully!
At that time, I, extremely excited, suddenly understood. I realized this was an very important moment, and began to scrutinize the Chart at once. An amazing Chart emerged before my eyes. Although this was still the same Chart I had been watching for thousands of times, the area it covered seemed to be much larger that it had, and the information it included seemed to have increased.
I was overjoyed beyond expectation and then I made some other important discoveries！I was moving my eyeballs eastward along the latitude where Malindi of Africa’s south tip when I saw a piece of continent along this latitude. This continent had not been drawn in whole, there had only been some sketches of the continent’s north side symbolically. Some mountains(translate note: or hills) had been drawn inside its coastline, without place names indicated. But, at the upper left corner of the continent,i.e. its northwest, three characters “You’ren’jia”( TN: literal meaning of “there are households ). To the west and not very far away, there is a small island with three characters “Hu’wei’jiao”(TN: Literal meaning of “ tiger tail rock/reef”). Up to the Continent is Sumatra. There are also three characters of “You’ren’jia”( TN: literal meaning of “there are households ) at upper right-hand corner, i.e. the north-east of the continent. And to the east of these three characters, there is also a small island with three characters of “Shi’Cheng’Shan”(tn: literal meaning of “stone city hill/mountain). Although this piece of land only occupies a very small part at the bottom of each page, it its breadth occupies three consecutive pages, and the islands in the Pacific Ocean to the right also occupy 2 consecutive pages, therefore there are altogether 5 pages in space.
Although I also saw this piece of continent, but never couldn’t determine where this is. This time it was different, because the angle from which the Chart was changed. This time, it was to the east not from Malindi of Kenya, nor from Malindi of Tanzania, but to the east from the Malindi of Africa’s south tip along the same latitude. At that moment, I took out the current map and looked in comparison and concluded without any hesitance that: this is Australia of the Oceania! Right，it must be Australia! We hadn’t known it before that while the charter had long ago drawn on the Nautical Chart the merits and achievements that Zheng He’s Fleets discovered Australia, not only by drawing it on the charts, but also by telling us with words(characters) that: on this continent “You’Ren’Jia”( tn: there are households). Now we could proclaim confidently that: Zheng He’s Fleets had discovered Australia in the early-15 century! “Zheng He’s Fleets’ Nautical Chart” is the evidence, an irrefutable evidence beyond all doubts.
We can also see from the Chart the two routes along which Zheng He’s Fleets returned to China via southwest of Australia where they sailed northward. One of them is from east: from west of “Hu’wei’jiao”(tn: literal meaning of tiger tail reef) northward, through the straits between Sumatra and Java, then the South (China) Sea, East (China) Sea back to Nanjing (Nanking). The other line is from the west: from west of “Hu’wei’jiao”(tn: literal meaning of “tiger tail reef”) northward, winding through the north tip of Sumatra, then through Malacca, then the South (China) Sea, East (China) Sea and back to Nanjing(Nanking). Nothing was mentioned in the Chart as for what countries Zheng He’s Fleets had been passing through before reaching southwest of Australia.
At this moment, I felt a surging of emotions. Unconsciously turning to the page where Mao Yuanyi’s Forward for the Nautical Chart is, I repeated the last sentence again and again:“the countries and territories where they passed through are listed out in the Chart, in details and not blotting out, for the purpose of making bright(tn: ancient Chinese, didn’t refer to make what bright, possibly the merits and achievement?) as will be seen by the coming generations, and recording the military accomplishment.” After reading it, I was very much moved, mixed in emotions.
In the long process of decoding the place names in Africa, I deeply felt the truthfulness and reliability. Without personally doing it, you could hardly feel the meaning of “in details and not blotting out”. At the same time I have also comprehended the purpose of “making bright as will be seen by the coming generations, and recording the military accomplishment”. I firmly believe that every merit and achievement that the great Navigator Zheng He and his fleets had made will never be blot out; Zheng He’s sailing to Western Oceans will surely be granted the status (admiration or recognition) it deserved; The dauntlessness, pioneering spirit and entrepreneurship of Zheng He’s Fleets will surely be shining brightly for thousands of generations to come!
(28,Aug. 2003 Beijing)