Zheng was born in the year 1371 a period when the Chinese and European had crafted the art of boat building for exploration purposes. The main contribution of Zheng was commandeering exploration ship on behalf China to the Far East Asia. The purpose of exploration was to look for minerals for china and look for territories to expand. The main areas that Zheng He explored included the South Asia, coast of Somalia, and Coast of East Africa. The mystery remains on Zheng being the greatest ship builder in his time. Zheng He was named Ma He at the date of birth being the second born son in his family. He was born in a village in Kunyang, China within a Muslim family. He started receiving Islamic teaching from when he was young. In the year 1381, Zheng lost his father at a tender age of ten. The father died trying to resist the invasion of their village by Ming army. The father and grandfather had made a pilgrimage to Mecca, which was a requirement for every Muslim before his death (Dreyer, 2007). The knowledge of the route to Mecca gained by the father and grandfather on their pilgrimage interested him on the knowledge of exploring far lands. Historians believe Zheng father character was the main factor that made him to become an explorer. The world history put Zheng He as the main contributor to the build building industry and exploration on behalf of the Chinese empire.
In year 1831, he was captured by the soldiers of the Ming Dynasty and taken a prisoner. The Ming dynasty was carrying a cleansing of other kingdoms in China during the period of 1279-1368. Soldiers after capturing a village they would take boys as prisoner to serve the crown. Rulers of these villages were killed to eliminate chances of them rising again to power. The captured prisoners were castrated to put a stoppage to their family line what was done to Zheng when he was taken prisoner.
Zheng matured as a servant in the palace making him earn the trust from rulers. The trust was earned because of his hard working skills and the knowledge he displayed. The Prince Di chose Zheng as a personal bodyguard, which would expose him to power and leadership of the Chinese kingdom (Suryadinata, 2005). The princess had to fight other loyal members to rise in the loyal hierarchy and Zheng offered the needed military support. The military support would act as the one contributing to the Prince rewarding Zheng upon rising to the reign. He accompanied the princes to battles to provide the strategies of winning wars. The good military skills allowed him to amass wealth for the prince and members of the loyal family. The wealth would be used later to finance his maritime expeditions.
Princess Di took the leadership of Yongle in 1403 with the help of Zheng in the year 1403 to 1424 (Hansen & Curtis, 2010). The princess had an obligation to reward all members of the army who had supported him in the campaign to capture the leadership. Zheng was honored by being given the title of Grand Eunuch. The grand Eunuch title came with the responsibility of being the leader of maritime affair in the kingdom. The role would let Zheng explore the world with financial help from the kingdom.
The first maritime explorer he carried was in year 1402 to the Western sea. The exploration of the western sea was made possible by Zheng ability to master nautical and geographical knowledge. The knowledge would help the sailors in knowing directions during the exploration for they were visiting new lands. The ships carried goods and soldiers for protection purposes. The large quantities of goods were to be used for trade purposes with the occupants of the Coast of West Sea. The fleet would establish one of the first attempts of the Ming dynasty to trade with people from as far as Africa. The exploration route established by Zheng would come to be used by European explorers later on reaching the Far East and China.
The year 1405 up to 1403 Zheng made multiple explorations reaching the South Africa. The fleets were supposed to carry trade goods and soldiers. The exploration to places like Africa led to exchange of culture among the trade partners (Suryadinata, 2005). The members of the fleet would spread the boat building technology to other regions such as Philippines and Africa. The spread of boat building technology would help other regions in participating in long distance trade through the Sea and not walking in Caravans. Zheng fleets had huge ships compared to the dhows used by the Arabians navigators who had mastered the use of Monsoon winds to reach the coast of East Africa (Suryadinata, 2005). The European and Arabian explorer started to think of ways of developing a new model of ships to compete with those used by him. The competition was the main trigger to the development of maritime technology in countries like Portugal and Spain.
China gained technologically from Zheng exploration of the Far East lands. He came home with Arabians who had mastered the art of making glass vessels that would resist heat. The Chinese had the art of sintering glass as part of their enamelware but it would not resist heat (Tsai, 1996). The new knowledge brought by the Arabic explorers would lead to Tang dynasty starting to export heat resistance glass as part of its trade goods. The explorers brought home life animals for the imperial court. Some of the major animals that were brought included the giraffe and Zebras. These animals were used for decoration purposes in the king gardens. The transportation of animals can be attributed as one way of spreading wild species from their natural habitat.
Zheng made a major contribution to the modern history through long distance exploration between continents. Historians date the marine industry under the leadership of Zheng sprung ninety years before Christopher Columbus made an exploration to discover the new world. The drive by Zheng to gain knowledge on boat building and navigation played a great role in guiding other members of the fleet. The military skills gained by Zheng while fighting along the prince helped him in organizing security details that would protect his fleets. The different writing on the history of Zheng claims that each fleet carried hundreds of soldiers. People without military knowledge would not make such organization without facing insubordination from fellow crewmembers. Loyalty to the prince led to him rising through the rank in the loyal house though he had come as a prisoner. The loyalty made the prince change Zheng name as a way of honoring him.
Dreyer, E. (2007). Zheng Ming dynasty, 1405-1433. New York: Pearson He : China and the oceans in the early Longman.
Hansen, V. & Curtis, K. (2010). Voyages in world history. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Suryadinata, L. (2005). Admiral Zheng He & Southeast Asia. Singapore: International Zheng He Society Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Tsai. (1996). The eunuchs in the Ming dynasty. New York: State University of New York Press.