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About our Society

About Zheng He (Cheng Ho)

 

About Our Society



HOW THE SOCIETY CAME ABOUT

To many Southeast Asians, particularly those residing in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, Zheng He, or Cheng Ho as he is better known in this part of the region, is held with great reverence. Temples have been built to enable people to worship him as a deity by not only the Chinese but also other ethnic groups. One reason is that he was a Muslim and he distinguished himself by not imposing his own religious persuasion on people of other faiths.Zheng He built many temples especially Mazu ( 妈祖 Goddess of the Sea) temples. He made generous donations to many temples in China and in Sri Lanka. He also inscribed texts of Buddhist scriptures and donated them to Buddhist temples. He gave assistance to people in other regions irrespective of whether they are Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist or Hindu. He was instrumental in building mosques in many places he visited and he appears to favour countries that are Islamic. There was no record to state that he visited Mecca, but his father and grandfather did. Also he sent some of his crew to visit the Mecca. His footprints have been left not only in Southeast Asia, but also in countries around the Indian Ocean to as far as Somalia and Kenya.

 Zheng He has become a legend and worshipped as a deity for many people in Southeast Asia. However, it has also become apparent that Zheng He’s exploits as a master navigator have become obscured in spite of being commander of the World’s largest fleet of wooden ships ever assembled and the most powerful fleet of his era. His acts of diplomacy through practical help given to local rulers including installing some as rulers in their own land had receded into the background.

Our society’s mission is to unveil the historical facts relating to his seven great voyages in order to bring to light the truth of his contributions not only to Imperial Ming to whom he owes his allegiance but also his deeds and acts of support for local people and rulers in the lands that he visited during his voyages. The Society also hopes to uncover the technological developments that his ships and manner of navigation that his fleet employed.

It is hoped that, the fact that he was Chinese, though of Persian descent and a devout Muslim could become instrumental to bring about greater mutual understanding and appreciation among people of all ethnic groups in the Asian-African region. He honoured and held in respect people of other faiths. He paid respect to the Goddess of the Sea or Mazu or Tien Fei (heavenly queen) whom he asked for succour and blessings before the start of his voyages. He was warmly received by most states that he visited. His voyages promoted trade and helped to develop the Maritime Silk Route to complement the better known overland Silk Routes.

As to how the Society got started. A small number of scholars, led by our President, Drs Tan Ta Sen, including founding members, Leo Suryadinata, and Ong Chu Meng, were in the town of Malacca (Melaka) on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia to find out and to verify what Zheng He did in that town that he visited five times out of the seven voyages that he undertook. Historical accounts by Ma Huan and others mentioned that Zheng He erected a stockade to be his guanchang ( 官厂official depot) in Malacca and that it was on the northern side of the river.

It was, therefore, not by coincidence that Drs Tan and his friends discovered the location of guanchang among the shophouses in the old part of Malacca town. Drs Tan used his own resources to purchase eight units of the shophouses that he believed where the residence of Zheng He’s senior officers. He proceeded to clear the rubble of the houses that have become dilapidated and to renovate it using skilled craftsmen from China to recreated their former splendour. Drs Tan found among the ruins, several wells, wooden carvings, and numerous broken ceramics dating back to the Ming and earlier dynasties.

Today, the eight shophouses have been completed rebuilt and modeled after historical accounts of what the guanchang looked like. The Cheng Ho Cultural Museum now occupies the premises and a soft opening took place on 28 Sept 2005. Drs Tan’s inspiration has become reality in the shape of a first-rate museum (details can be viewed in the pdf files in this website). The Museum has sections that traces the life of Zheng He, the historical background from which he emerged as a high ranking official in the Ming Court; the ships in his mighty fleet; navigational and communications tools and techniques; the cargo carried including ceramics, urns for storing food, traded products and items carried as gifts and tributes; a collection of highly-valuable ceramic pieces; voyages of well-known western pioneering maritime explorers including Vasco Da Gama, Christopher Columbus, Captain Thomas Cook, and other exhibits.

From the above, it is clear that there is a close link between the Society and the Museum. The latter became the inspiration for the establishment of the Society which was first set up under a pro-tem Committee on 22 September 2002 and subsequently formally constituted as a Society in its inaugural Annual General Meeting on 29 March 2003, while the Society was registered on 20 January 2003.

The Society today owes much to the financial and efforts of our President, Drs Tan and his financial contributions as well as time and effort of the past and present committee members. The future success of the Society will depend on continued support in kind and personal sacrifices of many more. It is hoped that more younger people will join the society and eventually take over the running of the organization.

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Zheng He symbolizes many things including the spirit of adventure in the face of uncertainty and enormous life threatening circumstances. His voyages employ skilled and knowledgeable men from many ethnic origins and deploying high technological capabilities for navigation and communications. He was sent on missions of friendship and good will to countries in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and eastern Africa – and some say much further away. He proved himself to be a strong leader and consummate diplomat winning many allegiances to the Ming Court that he served. Although a Muslim of a Middle Eastern ancestry himself, he respected and gave assistance to those of other religious persuasions and he built mosques in many places that he visited.

The aims of our Society are as follows:

      • To promote research on Zheng He’s expeditions, especially in Southeast Asia;
      • To study the socio-economic and cultural influence of Zheng He on Southeast Asia;
      • To exchange information and co-operate with other organizations -- local or international--that are concerned with the study and research on Zheng He; and
      • To raise awareness and understanding of Zheng He through the discussion and publication of findings on Zheng He.

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ORGANISATION OF THE SOCIETY

ADVISOR
 
Professor Wang Gungwu
  • Director, East Asian Institute (EAI), National University of Singapore
  • Chairman, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)
  • Formerly, Vice Chancellor, Hong Kong University , Hong Kong

HONORARY CHAIRMAN
 
Ambassador Lee Koon Choy
  • Former Minister of Culture , Singapore Government
  • Served as Ambassador of Singapore to Japan , Egypt , Indonesia

INTERNATIONAL ADVISOR
 
 
Wu Jin, Distinguished Professor of Hydraulics and Ocean Engineering, National Cheng Kung University , Taiwan
  • Former Minister of Education, Taiwan
  • Former President, Cheng Kung University

PRESIDENT
 
Tan Ta Sen, B.A. ( Nanyang Univ. ), B.A. and Drs ( Univ. of Indonesia )
  • Chairman, Utraco Group of companies
  • Director, Cheng Ho Cultural Museum, Malacca
  • Head, Southeast Asian Studies, Nanyang University (1977-1978)

VICE PRESIDENT
 
Leo Suryadinata, B.A. (Nanyang U.), Drs. (Univ. of Indonesia), M.A. (Monash Univ. and Ohio Univ.) and Ph.D. (American Univ.)
  • Director, Chinese Heritage Centre, Nanyang Technological University
  • Formerly, Professor, Dept of Political Science, NUS and Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)
  • Vice President , Singapore Society of Asian Studies

SECRETARY
 
Chia Lin Sien, BA (Sydney), MSc (McGill), PhD (Sing U), FCIT ( London )
  • Formerly, Assoc. Professor, National University of Singapore
  • Advisor, Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT) and Singapore National Shippers’ Council (SNSC)
  • Academic Advisor, Singapore Chinese Chamber Institute of Business (SCCIOB)
  • Research interest in transportation management, environment and wastewater management

ASSISTANT SECRETARY & CHAIRMAN OF MEMBERSHIP SUB-COMMITTEE
 
Jaffar b Mohd. Kassim, BA Nanyang Univ.) in Chinese Language & Literature
  • Director, Yelin Language Centre ( 耶林语文 与咨询 中心 )
  • Member of the ISCOS Board of Trustee
  • Vice-Chairman, Board of Visitors (Drug Rehabilitation Centres) , Ministry of Homes Affairs
  • Commitment to foster better relations between Malay and Chinese communities
  • Former Head, Public Education, Islamic Centre of Singapore or Majlis Ugama Islam Singapore (MUIS)
  • Former Sub-Editor, Berita Harian
TREASURER
 
Ong Chu Meng, BA (Econs)( Nanyang Univ.)
  • Director, Patrick View Development Pte Ltd
  • Director, Ee Hoe Hean Club Singapore
  • Director, Singa Sino Friendship Association
  • Councillor, The Association of Nanyang University Graduates

ASSISTANT TREASURER
 
Chuah Tong Hai, F.R.M.I.T., M.Sc. (NUS), P.Eng. FIES, MICE, MIE(Aust), MIE(M)
  • Director, TH Chuah & Partners Pte Ltd
  • Director, Xiamen Underwater World Ltd

MEMBERS
 
Chen Poh Seng, B.A. (Nanyang Univ.)
  • Secretary , Singapore Society of Asian Studies
  • Vice President,  Rotary Club of Garden City
  • Director, Ying Fo Fui Kun

Chua Leong Kian, CHAIRMAN OF EDUCATION SUB-COMMITTEE
  • Chairman, Peace Translation and Clipping Services Pte Ltd
  • Asst Secretary , China Society
  • Deputy Head, Cultural & Education Section, Tung Ann District Guild
  • Council Member, Singapore Writers Association
  • Member, Institute of Public Relations
  • Life Member, Singapore Press Club

Liaw Yock Fang, PhD
  • Formerly, Professor, Dept of Malay Studies, National Univ. of Singapore
  • Specialist in Malay language, literature and culture

Ng Foo Weng Kitson, BSc in Offshore Engineering ( Heriot-Watt Univ.), MEng in Petroleum Engineering ( Heriot-Watt Univ.)
  • Managing Director, Fluoresave (S) Pte Ltd

Ng Siong Tee, BSc (Hons) in Engineering ( London Univ.)
  • Managing Director, Kontiki Enterprises Pte Ltd
  • Chairman, Zheng He Pte Ltd - Friends of Zheng He

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About Zheng He (Cheng Ho) (Click Here for the BAHASA version)

 

CHRONOLOGY OF ZHENG HE – HIS LIFE AND VOYAGES AND RELATED EVENTS

Date

Event

1371
4th yr Hongwu

Zheng He was born in Hedai Village, Kunyang Prefecture, Yunnan, with the name of Ma He. He was the son of Ma Haji, a prominent leader of the Muslim community in his birthplace.

1381
14th yr Hongwu

Ming army entered Yunnan.

1382
15th yr Hongwu

Ma He’s father, Ma Haji, passed away. Ming army occupied Yunnan and defeated the remnants of Yuan forces led by prince of Liang. Ma He aged 11 was captured and castrated.

1387
20th yr Hongwu

Emperor Hongwu unified China.

1390
24th year Hongwu

Ma He was a member of Prince of Yan, Zhudi’s troops and defeated the Yan’s forces. He was selected to serve the Prince of Yan.

1398
31st yr Hongwu

Emperor Hongwu, Zhu Yuanzhang, passed away and was given posthumous title of Emperor Taizu of Ming (Ming Taizu).

1399
1st yr Jianwen

Zhu Yunwen ascended the throne as Emperor Jianwen. prince of Yan, Zhudi, rebelled and attacked Nanjing, then the Ming capital. Ma He ably assisted Zhudi in war. Jianwen failed to put down the rebellion.

1400
2nd yr Jianwen

Prince of Yan besieged Weizhou.

1401
3rd yr Jianwen

Prince of Yan’s forces entered Nanjing.

1402
4th yr Jianwen

Zhu Di proclaimed himself Emperor Yongle. Jianwen either died in battle or escaped without trace.

1404
2nd yr Yongle

In recognition of Ma He’s military contribution, Zheng He aged 33 was rewarded by Emperor Yongle and conferred the surname Zheng. Henceforth he was known as Zheng He.

1405
3rd yr Yongle

Began his naval expedition with Wang Jinghong and others in July. Visited Campa, Siam, Palembang, Samudra Pasai (Aceh), Malabar, Calicut, Ceylon, and elsewhere. Returned to China in October the following year.

1407
5th yr Yongle

Began his 2nd expedition with Wang Jinghong, Hou Xian and others.

1408
6th yr Yongle

Visited Campa, Siam, Java, Samudra Pasai, Lambri, Malacca, Malabar, Calicut, Cochin, and Ceylon.

1409
7th yr Yongle

Returned to China around July-August. Begin his 3rd expedition with Wang Jinghong, Fei Xin and others.

1410
8th yr Yongle

Visited Campa, Java, Malacca, Samudra Pasai, Ceylon, Quilon, Cochin, Calicut, Siam, Malabar, Cail, Cambay and Ahmedabad.

1411
9th yr Yongle

Returned to China in July

1413
11th yr Yongle

Began his 4th expedition with Ma Huan, Fei Xin and others in October.

1414
12th yr Yongle

Visited Campa, Java, Palembang, Malacca, Samudra Pasai, Ceylon, Cochin, Calicut, Maldives, Ormuz, Rasa, Aden, Mogedoxu, Jobo, Brawa, Malinde, Cail, Pahang, Kelantan, Aru, and Lambri.

1415
13th yr Yongle

Returned to China in August.

1417
15th yr Yongle

Begin his 5 th expedition. Visited Quanzhou to pay homage at the tomb of Muslim sages. Erected monument to commemorate his visit.

1418
16th yr Yongle

Visited Campa, Calicut, Java, Malacca, Samudra Pasai, Lambri, Pahang, Ceylon, Maldive, Malabar, Aden, Malinde, Ormuz, Cochin, Negapatan, Mogedoxu, Brawa and Rasa.

1419
17th yr Yongle

Returned to China in August.

1420
18th yr Yongle

Ming capital moved to Beijing.

1421
19th yr Yongle

Begin his 6 th expedition with Wang Jinghong, Ma Huan and others in Spring. Visited Campa, Siam, Malacca, Samudra Pasai, Bengal, Shi-la-si, Calicut, Cochin, Cail, Ceylon, Maldive, Chola, Jofar, Aden, Mogedoxu and Brawa.

1422
20th yr Yongle

Returned to China in September.

1424
22nd yr Yongle

Sailed to Palembang to deliver the decree of Ming Emperor to appoint Shi Jisun, son of Shi Jinqing as Xuan Wei Shi (ambassador) succeeding his father who passed away earlier. Returned to China in September. Zhu Di, Emperor Yongle, passed away.

1425
1st yr Hongxi

Zhu Gaochi ascended the throne as Emperor Hongxi and disapproved of the expeditions to the Western Ocean by Zheng He. Zheng He appointed as commander of Nanjing garrison.

1426
1st yr Xuande

Zhu Zhanji ascended throne as Emperor Xuande. Zheng He remained as commander of Nanjing garrison.

1431
6th yr Xuande

Began his 7th expedition with Wang Jinghong, Ma Huan, Fei Xin, Gong Zheng and others in January. Reached Liujia in February and Changle in April. He erected monument of Tian Fei Ying Zhi Yi in Changle.

1432
7th yr Xuande

Visited Campa, Java, Palembang, Malacca, Samudra Pasai, Aru, Lide, Lambri, Ceylon, Calicut, Bengal, Maldive, Quilan, Cochin, Combay, Cail, Mecca, Jofar, Rasa, Aden, Mogedoxu, Brawa and Ormuz. While Zheng He’s armada was in Calicut, Ma Huan and six other persons were sent by eunuch Hong Bao to Mecca. Their voyage lasted one year.

1433
8th yr Xuande

Zheng He fell ill and passed away in Calicut at the age of 62.

 

Sources: Kong Yuanzhi (transl by H.M Hembing Wijayakusuma), Muslim Tionghoa Cheng Ho: Misteri Perjalanan Muhibah di Nusantara (Chinese Muslim Cheng Ho: Mystery of the Expedition to Nusantara, edited by H.M Hembing Wijayakusuma, Jakarta: Pustaka Populer Obor, 2000, p. 263, appendix A; Tan Ta Sen & Chia Lin Sien (eds. English vers.), The Zheng He Epic, Yunnan Peoples’ Publ., Yunnan Fine Arts Publ. and Aurora Publ., Kunming, 2006, p. 21-22.

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KRONOLOGI ZHENG HE –
KEHIDUPAN DAN PERJALANANNYA SERTA BERBAGAI PERISTIWA YANG BERSEJARAH

 

Tarikh

Peristewa

1371

Tahun ke 4 Hongwu

Zheng He dilahirkan di desa Hedai, Prefektur Kunyang , Yunnan , dengan nama Ma He. Beliau adalah putera Ma Haji, seorang pemimpin komunitas Muslim yang terkemuka di tempat kelahirannya.

1381

Tahun ke 14 Hongwu

Tentara Ming memasuki Yunnan .

1382

Tahun ke 15 Hongwu

Ayah Ma He, Ma Haji, meninggal dunia. Tentara Ming menduduki Yunnan and mengalahkan sisa-sisa tentara Yuan yang dipimpin oleh Raja Muda Liang. Ma He yang berusia 11 tahun ditangkap dan dikebiri

1387

Tahun ke 20 Hongwu

Kaisar Hongwu mempersatukan Cina.

1390

Tahun ke 24 Hongwu

Ma He sebagai anggota tentara Raja Muda Yan, Zhudi dan mengalahkan tentara-tentara Yan.. Dia kemudian dipilih untuk mengabdi kepada Raja Muda Yan.

1398

Tahun ke 31 Hongwu

Kaisar Hongwu, Zhu Yuanzhang, mangkat dan beliau dianugerahkan gelar Kaisar Taizu Dinasti Ming (Ming Taizu).

1399

Tahun pertama Jianwen

Zhu Yunwen naik tahta sebagai Kaisar Jianwen. Raja Muda Yan, Zhudi, memberontak dan menyerang Nanjing , ibukota Ming ketika itu. Ma He membantu Zhudi dalam peperangan dengan gagah dan berani. Jianwen gagal menumpas pemberontakan tersebut.

1400

Tahun ke 2 Jianwen

Raja Muda Yan mengepung Weizhou.

1401

Tahun ke 3 Jianwen

Tentara Raja Muda Yan memasuki Nanjing .

1402

Tahun ke 4 Jianwen

Zhu Di mengangkat dirinya sebagai Kaisar Yongle. Jianwen kemungkinan tewas di dalam peperangan atau meloloskan diri tanpa meninggalkan jejak.

1404

Tahun ke 2 Yongle

Demi megakui sumbangsih Ma He di bidang tentera, Zheng He yang berusia 33 tahun itu diberi penghargaan oleh Kaisar Yongle dan dianugerahikan gelaran Zheng. Sejak saat itu beliau dikenal dengan nama Zheng He.

1405

Tahun ke 3 Yongle

Memulakan ekspedisi laut bersama dengan Wang Jinghong dan yang lain pada bulan Julai. Pernah mengunjungi Campa , Siam , Palembang , Samudera Pasai (Aceh), Malabar, Calicut , Ceylon , dan lain-lain tempat. Kembali ke Cina pada bulan Oktober tahun berikutnya

.

1407

Tahun ke 5 Yongle

Memulai ekspedisinya yang kedua bersama Wang Jinghong, Hou Xian dan yang lain.

1408

Tahun ke 6 Yongle

Mengunjungi Campa , Siam , Jawa, Samudra Pasai, Lambri, Melaka, Malabar, Calicut , Cochin dan Ceylon .

1409

Tahun ke 7 Yongle

Kembali ke Cina sekitar bulan Julai-Ogos. Memulai ekspedisinya yang ketiga bersama Wang Jinghong, Fei Xin dan yang lain.

1410

Tahun ke 8 Yongle

Mengunjungi Campa, Jawa, Melaka, Samudera Pasai, Ceylon, Quilon, Cochin, Calicut, Siam, Malabar, Cail, Cambay and Ahmedabad.

1411

Tahun ke 9 Yongle

Kembali ke Cina pada bulan Julai.

1413

Tahun ke 11 Yongle

Memulakan ekspedisinya yang keempat bersama Ma Huan, Fei Xin dan yang lain pada bulan Oktober.

1414

Tahun ke 12 Yongle

Mengunjungi Campa, Jawa, Palembang, Melaka, Samudera Pasai, Ceylon, Cochin, Calicut, Maldives, Ormuz, Rasa, Aden, Mogedoxu, Jobo, Brawa, Malinde, Cail, Pahang, Kelantan, Aru, dan Lambri.

1415

Tahun ke 13 Yongle

Kembali ke Cina pada bulan Ogos.

1417

Tahun ke 15 Yongle

Memulai ekspedisi yang kelima. Mengunjungi Quanzhou untuk berziarah ke makam tokoh-tokoh Muslim. Mendirikan monumen untuk menandakan kunjungannya.

1418

Tahun ke 16 Yongle

Mengunjungi Campa, Calicut, Jawa, Melaka, Samudera Pasai, Lambri, Pahang, Ceylon, Maldive, Malabar, Aden, Malinde, Ormuz, Cochin, Negapatan, Mogedoxu, Brawa dan Rasa.

1419

Tahun ke 17 Yongle

Kembali ke Cina pada bulan Ogos

1420

Tahun ke 18 Yongle

Ibukota Ming berpindah ke Beijing .

 

1421

Tahun ke 19 Yongle

Memulakan ekspedisinya yang keenam bersama Wang Jinghong, Ma Huan dan yang lain di musim semai. Mengunjungi Campa, Siam, Melaka, Samudera Pasai, Bengal, Shi-la-si, Calicut, Cochin, Cail, Ceylon, Maldive, Chola, Jofar, Aden, Mogedoxu dan Brawa.

1422

Tahun ke 20 Yongle

Kembali ke Cina pada bulan September

1424

Tahun ke 22 Yongle

Berlayar ke Palembang untuk mengantar titah Kaisar Ming yang isinya mengangkat Shi Jisun, putera Shi Jinqing sembagai Xuan Wei Shi (duta besar) menggantikan ayahandanya yang telah meninggal dunia sebelumnya. Kembali ke Cina pada bulan September. Zhu Di, Kaisar Yongle, mangkat.

 

1425

Tahun pertama Hongxi

Zhu Gaochi naik tahta sebagai Kaisar Hongxi and menolak ekspedisi ke Samudera Barat oleh Zheng He. Zheng He diangkat sebagai komandan garnisun Nanjing .

1426

Tahun pertama Xuande

Zhu Zhanji naik tahta sebagai Kaisar Xuande. Zheng He tetap sebagai komandan garnisun Nanjing .

1431

Tahun ke 6 Xuande

Memulakan ekspedisinya yang ketujuh bersama Wang Jinghong, Ma Huan, Fei Xin, Gong Zheng dan yang lain pada bulan Januari. Tiba di Liujia pada bulan Februari dan Changle pada bulan April. Dia mendirikan monumen Tian Fei Ying Zhi Yi di Changle.

1432

Tahun ke 7 Xuande

Mengunjungi Campa, Jawa, Palembang, Melaka, Samudera Pasai, Aru, Lide, Lambri, Ceylon, Calicut, Bengal, Maldive, Quilan, Cochin, Combay, Cail, Mekah, Jofar, Rasa, Aden, Mogedoxu, Brawa dan Ormuz. Ketika armada Zheng He di Calicut, Ma Huan dan enam orang lainnya diarah oleh Hong Bao ke Mekah. Perjalanan mereka berlangsung setahun.

1433

Tahun ke 8 Xuande

Zheng He jatuh sakit dan meninggal dunia di Calicut pada usia 62 tahun.

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The International Zheng He Society
28 Oei Tiong Ham Park Singapore 267033
Tel: (65) 6295-2888 Fax: (65) 6466-6075

Email: infoexchange@chengho.org Website: www.chengho.org