rotating gif.gifSee World History 1.23 for more on Chinese history to the 19th century

Statute of Zheng He with his great great grandnephew, 2007
Statute of Zheng He with his great great grandnephew, 2007

Indonesian Stamp honoring Zheng He
Indonesian Stamp honoring Zheng He


Pronounce the name Zheng He

On July 11, 1405, the Ming dynasty fleet under Admiral Zheng He began the first of seven voyages from China across the Indian Ocean as far west as Africa, with the last voyage was in 1433. Throughout these voyages Zheng He set new precedents for Chinese exploration and maritime travel. His fleet and their voyages were impressive feats both in their time and today. Before the Chinese ceased naval construction and exploration, Zheng He helped to greatly expand their knowledge of the world around them and what it had to offer.


The Treasure Fleets
Overview of Zheng He's Voyages
Overview of Zheng He's Voyages


Zheng He's boats were enormous in size, measuring 400 feet in length and 170 feet across with 9 masts and a displacement of 3,000 tons. These ships have been called a "treasure fleet." This was 10 times
the size of Vasco da Gama's flagship at the outset of European exploration more than a century later. Check out the differences here - Columbus's Ship vs. Zheng He's Treasure Ship - it's a look at models of the ships side by side!

Some more reading about his voyages:
The Ming Voyages from Asia for Educators, Columbia University
China's Great Armada from National Geographic describes the voyages of the treasure fleets.
Voyages of Zheng He, 1405-1433 from National Geographic
The Voyages of Zheng He, a quick recap from St. Mary's University


Here is a detailed lecture on the topic:
The Voyages of Chinese explorer Zheng He, a lecture from the Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania
Or a five minute clip to show from PBS:
World Explorer - Zheng He


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Lesson Plan Ideas:
History Lab: Ming China and the Voyages of Zheng He
The Ming Voyages - Asia for Educators
Who First Reached America: The Vikings, the Chinese Admiral Zheng He or Columbus? Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
Here's an quicker, easier read about Zheng He and for lower reading levels along with a quick quiz: Biography - Zheng He

Female_Rose.pngHere's some brief biographies of exemplary women around the time of Zheng He's Voyages: Notable Women
This page has some information about slave life under the Ming Code section: Ming Dynasty