You are on page 1of 9

This journal was belonging to Zheng He ()

I was born in 1371, at the far eastern edge of the Himalayan uplift _ Yunnan, China. Although I was
born in China, I am Muslim and I live here, Yunnan, with my family: father, mother, 4
younger/older sisters and an older brother. My father and grandfather came from Persia, they were
the leaders of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. Hence, I was the sixth descendant of Sayyid Ajjad Shams
al-din Omar, a ruler family of Yunnan province of the Yuan Dynasty. When I was young, I heard
plenty of stories about trips, journeys to strange lands by my father and grandfather, which affected
me a lot the time after. However, everything changed since the Ming Armies occupied Yunnan, I
was arrested as a ten-year-old boy and have been a eunuch, hence that, I became a eunuch serving
the Emperors son, Prince Zhu Di. At the palace, besides being a eunuch serving for the Prince, I
was also an admiral, diplomat, advisors and fleet commander. I had a long career.

Looking back to the past, I, my name was originally born was Ma Sanbao (Ma He ; /
) which meant Three Treasures, but after earning honor by helping Zhu Di Prince overthrew
Jianwen Emperor () thrones. To award me, he gave me a new name, and that was when the
name Zheng He was born. Following that, later the Prince became the Emperor of China as
Yongle Emperor ( ). Time after time, then, I served next to the third Emperor of the Ming
Dynasty (reign from 1403 to 1424). In total, I served for three Emperor of the Ming Dynasty.
Moreover, during these three emperors reign, I had seven missions in total. My first six missions
were under the Yongle Emperor ( ). Next, I was a military commander under the Hongxi
Emperor (). And finally made my final mission under the Xuande Emperor ().

The story starts in June 1404. I remember it clearly. In June, two years later after he got the authority,
Yongle called me and ordered me to lead a group heading to the West sea, this situation never exists
in the history of China. Because at this time, a lot of Western countries started to explore the way,
the line for trading things, especially spices. Taking advantage of opportunities, Yongle wanted to
show the world the glory and power of Chinese Emperor and also establish the relationship with
other countries. Besides that, he also established trade like the other western countries did. He is
very smart when giving the idea like this and I cannot waste his expect. To prepare for this big
project, it took us one year. Over one thousand good workers from Zhejiang and many more
provinces of China, gathered at Longjiang to prepare material to make the ship. They sprayed oil,
made ropes, sail the sailboat, make iron materials or goods to use on the ship, build the mast cut
the big and good tree in the wood bring to Nanjing by river as it required material, time, power and
workers like this, and after finishing the ship, the ship was 137-meter-long and 55 meters wide, they
said that it was at least twice as long as the largest European ships. It worth as it name they called it :
/ (pinyin: bochun) _ Treasure ship.
In 1405, I stepped onto that ship and started to sail to the ocean. My journey has started from now
on.

Before we started to set sail, Yongle held a banquet for our crew on the evening before the fleets
maiden voyage. We got a lot of gifts and the value of the gifts depended on our rank. The prayers
Overall places go
and wishes were told to hope that we would have a successful journey and be safe during the
voyage.
On July 11th, 1405, we, 27 800 people, containing sailors, builders, and repairmen for the trip,
soldiers, diplomatic specialists, medical personnel, astronomers, and scholars of foreign ways,
especially Islam, set sail. Going with 48 to 317 ships, with many different roles such as carrying
tribute products and repair materials for the fleet, food for the shipper, ship for soldiers, . We set
sail and started to do our first mission. In addition to overseeing the fleet, I was also in charge of
constructing the ships which were going to sail around the Indian
Ocean. First destination: Champa. We travelled along the coast of
Champa, Chenla, Siam (people also called these place as the name _
Vijaya). At there, we stopped for a period of time to exchange
incense, elephant tusks, horns, ebony and give back to native
people china and silkworms as the return. Subsequently the first
stop, we continued on our journey and we are passed Malacca
(Melaka), Aru, Ceylon Semudera,
Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Lambri, and Calicut. From Lambri,
Treasure ship sailed straight through the Indian Ocean, rather than the Bay of Bengal coastline to
Ceylon. After departing from Lambri for three days, we separated our team out to go in two
different directions: the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. My group
and I decided to go to the Nicobar Island route. Our Treasure fleet
finally saw the mountains of Ceylon after six days, my fleet and I
arrived at Ceylons eastern coast, Kingdom of Calicut (Kozhikode).
Two days later, at Sumatra, we met the hostile attitude from
Alagakkonara, I heard from my fleet mate that they were feudal
family that provided powerful ministers and military rulers at
Calicut Ceylon (Sri Lanka). I called them pirates. We battled and capture
one of the famous pirates, it took me serveral months to catch this
man. However, it was the story that I will talk about later; right now, I am not back to China yet.
Because of that problem, we decided to leave Ceylon. Afterward, we made a decision and made a
four-month stay at Calicut, from December to April of 1407. Then, we finally came back to Chinese
Emperor. In conclusion of this mission, I went along the coast of Champa, and traveled all the way
to Calicut, India. I had opportunities to visit many towns and ports along the way. I traded and
made diplomatic relations at the places we visit (as the Emperor wanted to). I also battled pirates
and capture their leader back to Nanjing, China for the punishment and trial.

On the second voyage, I was the person that organized the journey, but unfortunately, I could not
lead in person at this time. On 21 January 1409, a grand ceremony was held in the honor of the
goddess Tianfei, where she received a new title. I couldn't have been on the second voyage because
this ceremony was so important that it required my attendance. I, myself cannot guarantee that I
would come back on time, hence I cannot go on the second voyage. This trip started from October
1407 to 1409. About the number of ships going with me, I reduced the number of ships until we had
68 left. I cannot go so I just only heard from the sailors on the ship. They said that they went as
envoys to many countries. They visited again Calicut, and stopped as well in Chochin (Kochi) along
the coast to the south. Not just only that, we also visit places, such as Malacca, Semudera, Aru,
Jiayile, Java, Siam, Champa, Abobadan, Qiulon, Lambri and Ganbali.

As normal, I started my third voyage in October 1409. I was not alone. This time, Wang Jihong, and
Hou Xian also traveled with me, together we led the voyage. I continually reduced the number of
ships following me to 48 ships with 30,000 men. The reasons I do not wanted to have a lot of ships
was because, in my opinion, too many ships will catch a lot of attention. We first traveled from Liuja
in the ninth month (meaning 9 October to 6 November 1409) and arrived at Changle in the
following month (7 November to 6 December). After a time, we continually left Chengla for the seas
in the twelfth month (beginning of January to beginning day of February) of 1410. We proceeded
through the Wuhumen (entrance of the Min River in Fujian). We traveled again to Champa within
ten days. My friends, Wang Jinghong and Hou Xian made short stops at Siam, Malacca, Semudera
and Ceylon during detours. Arriving Ceylon in 1410, we landed at Galle.

Some places go (again) in third


Galle voyage

After 2 years enjoying and traveling, having the life on the water, we decide to go back to
hometown, where we belong to in 1411. During the homeward journey, King Alagonakkara of
Ceylon had betrayed me. The treasure fleet would engage into a military confrontation with King
Alagonakkara. I could not believe that this day will happen. Alagonakkara posed a threat to the
neighboring countries and local of Ceylon and southern India. I cannot just blame them, on arrival
at Ceylon, the Chinese were overbearing and disrespected the Sinhalese, whom they consider rude,
disrespectful, and hostile. But anyway, the Sinhalese were committing attacks and privacy toward
neighboring countries who had diplomatic relation with Ming China. As everyone would do, I
defeated Alagonakkaras forces and took him, the king back to Nanjing as a captive. In 6 th July 1411,
I came back to Nanjing. I presented the Sinhalese captives to the Yongle Emperor. Finally, the
emperor decides to bring him back to his countries and request the Ministry of Rites to
recommended someone to serve as the new King. Afterward there are no afterward because the
previous legal dynasty had already chosen a new one.

After two years of resting and relaxing, I started to miss the ocean
again. Identically, in 1413 Yongle Emperor issued the order for the
fourth voyage. The reason was the Yongle Emperor attend an archery
contest and there are a lot of envoys were invited to attend this
contest. So, the fourth journey has been started with the purpose to
escort them back to their countries besides to explore. The fourth
voyage started from 1413 to 1415. I would like to extend the scope of
the expeditions even further. Hence, this time, in addition, to visit
many of the same sites, I increased the number of ships to 68 and
going with was 28,000 men to Hormuz on the Persian Gulf.
Especially, this time the treasure fleet
Quilin
will go to the Muslims countries. Thus, the main chronicler of the
voyages, the young 25 years old Muslim translator Ma Huan, joined with me on this trip. Feeling
like going back home! In autumn, the Treasure ship once again set sail. From Fujian, the fleet
sailed to Champa, Kelatan, Pahang, Malacca, Palembang, Java, Lambri, Lide, Aru, Semudera,
Ceylon, Jiayile (opposite Ceylon), Cochin, and Calicut. Moreover, we proceeded to Liushan, Bila,
Sunla, and Hormuz. While stopping at Java, we gave them gifts and favors from Yongle. As they
returned they, Javanese, have sent the envoys to China on 29th April 1415. They gave us local
products to expressing gratitude. About the fleet, in 1415, we made a stop at northern Sumatra
during the journey homeward from Hormuz. I heard from other people in Sumatra about Sekandar,
a man now having the thorn here. Sekandar have usurped the Seeduera thorn from Zain al- Abidin.
But we, Chinese people, do not admit that he was a king, in our thought, only Zain al- Abidin is the
only ruler of Sumetra now. I know I should not step onto the other people story, but finally, I took
action. I had orders to launch a punitive attack against the usurper and restore Zain al-'Abidin as
the rightful king. In retaliation to the situation, Sekandar has sent an army to fight the Ming.
However, my troops and I disembarked from their ships and captured Sekandar. On 12 th August
1415, we finally came back from the two-year journey. Bringing back was Sekandar, who we have
capture from war, I will bring him to Namjing for execution. Moreover, there is a special like-
unicorn animal called Quilin that I am also bring back to China.

Back to when we just arrive after the fourth voyage, I have heard from other people said that Yongle
had been absent since 16th March 1413 for his second Mongol campaign and had not returned yet.
Hence, the gift for me and my fleets member have been indirectly given by him. After the fleet
returned, rulers of 18 countries sent envoys bearing tribute to the Ming court. On 14th November
1416, Yongle Emperor finally came back to Nanjing. On 19th November, he organized a huge
ceremony. In the ceremony, Yongle gave gifts to princes, civil officials, military officer, and the
advisors, whose came from 18 countries. After that, Yongle gave me a fifth mission to return the 18
envoys back to their countries. On 12th April 1417, my team and I left Nanjing to travel to the north.
In took us a month to get out of the Chinese coast in the autumn of 1417, because I needed to make a
stop at Quanzhou to load more goods and products. We once again visit a lot of familiar places, as
well as some new land. Such as Champa, Pahang, Java, Palembang, Malacca, Semudera, Lambri,
Ceylon, Cochin, Calicut, Shaliwanni, Liushan, Hormuz, Lasa, Aden, Mogadishu, Brava, Zhubu, and
Malindi. I know, going to such a far country from the China could make the other people of that
county do not know who are we, and lead to unwelcome visitors. In Mogadishu and Lasa is just like
what I had mentioned, the locals did not welcome us to come to their countries. Hence, due to that
situation, I have made a show of military force to show out the Chinese soul in us, and how
powerful were. On 8th August 1419, the fleet had returned to China. Once more, Yongle was still in
Beijing. But still, he ordered the Ministry of Rite to give monetary rewards to the fleets
commissioner. The convoy legate was received at the Ming court in the eight-lunar month of 1419.
Their tribute contains lions, leopards, dromedary camels, ostriches, zebras, rhinoceroses, antelopes,
giraffes, and other exotic animals, causing a great sensation among those at the Ming court. I, myself
enjoy that too. In concluding, it was primarily a return trip for seventeen heads of state from South
Asia; to be honest, I see myself was frequently met with hostility but this was easily subdued; many
ambassadors from the countries visited came back to China with me.

The sixth mission has published out after 2 years. These ambassadors remained in China for almost
two years. Yongle ordered them to be taken home. The imperial order for the sixth voyage was
dated on 3rd March 1421. They told me to go and bring imperial letters, silk brocade, silk floss, silk
gauze, and other gifts for the ruler of some countries that have been in a good relationship with
China. This sixth voyage of me was the most motivated by pure exploration and less for profit. The
envoys of the 16 different countries were escorted to their hometown safely, my mission is
completed. The first few destinations were Malacca and the three Sumatran states of Lambri, Aru
and Semudera. The fleet was divided in several detached squadrons at Semedura. All the squadrons
proceeded to Ceylon, whereafter they separated for Jiayile, Cochin, Ganbali, or Calicut in southern
India. The squadrons traveled from there to their respective destinations at Liushan, Hormuz at the
Persian Gulf, the three Arabian states of Djofar, Lasa, and Aden, and the two African states of
Mogadishu and Brava. After that, I let the eunuch Zhouled the detached squadron to Aden.
Moreover, I personally visited Ganbali, one of the twelfth nations in the west of Sumatra that Yongle
and I noted had to visit, as an envoy in 1421. As I said, we separated out into many teams to go to
many places, the squadron for Mogadishu had separated near Qiulon as a navigation point while
my fleet, the main fleet continued to Calicut. A large troop went further from Calicut to Hormuz via
Laccadives. Because my time is short, hence, we decided and planning together to separate out for
easier to explore many places in a short time. On the return, some troops regrouped at Calicut and
then, all of us reunion all together at Semudera. As I noticed, Siam was the most visited place in this
return of the sixth voyage. Finally, on 3 rd September 1422, we returned. We brought with us the
envoys from Siam, Semudera, Aden, and other countries, who have been tribute in local products.

I feel very sorry while writing this part. I miss my friend. I found that
Yongle Emperor had died during his absence after he returned from
Palembang. I was shocked. I cannot call him the Yongle Emperor, I will call
him Zhu Di. I think it would make us closer to each other when I am
calling you this name. Before my seventh voyage was to take place, there
was a big shake-up in the government of China. On 12th August 1424, Zhu
Di fell ill and passed away. It was a big loss for me because I have been
with him for more than forty years as a friend, as a eunuch standing
beside him, Thank you Zhu Di. All the Chinese people live in this
period need to thank him. Because of him, a lot of countries have known
Yongle Emperor about China. Zhu Di has given me the big opportunities to show off the

(2 May 1360 - 12 August


world our power. Now, our products have been present in many countries.
1424) And personally, if I did not have to request to travel around, I will never
know how big is the world. I will never forget this day.

Zhu Di thorn was succeeded by his eldest son Zhu Gaozhi (Hongxi)... but Hongxi was very different
from his father. He suspended all voyages and construction of treasure ships and focused on
domestic policy. He reigned, however, for only a very short time before he, too, fell ill and died; his
son Zhu Zhanji became emperor at the age of 26. Zhanji was a moderate force between his
grandfather and fathers disparate policies. He was known for being generous and scholarly.

Zhu Zhanji was concerned about the decline in trade that had occurred and issued an order for the
seventh voyage of the treasure fleet. an imperial order was issued on 25 May 1430 for the
arrangement of necessary provisions for the dispatch of me, Wang Jinghong, Li Xing, Zhu Liang,
Yang Zhen, Hong Bao, Ma Huan and others on official business to the countries of the Western
Ocean. I have comrades to travel with me now. The fleet embarked from Longwan in Nanjing on 19
January 1431. Our mission, this time, was to inform the distant lands beyond the seas of the new
emperors reign. It was also, in part, an attempt to restore peace between Siam and Malacca, both
trading partners of China. I made this voyage with the largest treasure fleet assembled, with more
than 300 ships and 27,500 men. The ships for this voyage were given names befitting their peaceful
mission, such as Pure Harmony, Lasting Tranquility, and Kind Repose That was also why now, I am
writing and recording my voyages throughout my entire life. On 23 January, we made a stop at
Xushan, a currently-unknown island in the Yangtze, where the crew hunted animals. After that, the
fleet traveled from China (Xushan) to Qui Nhon in southern Vietnam. On 7 th March 1432, we arrived
at Java, where they made port at Surabaya. Palembang in Sumatra was the next destination. We
arrived on 24th July same year and travel along the Banka Strait, passing the Lingga and Riau island.
On August 1432, the treasure fleet stopped at Malacca on the Malay Peninsula and depart to
Semudera and reach Sumatras northern tip in September. On 2 November 1432, the fleet departed
from Semudera. On 28 November 1432, the fleet arrived at Beruwala on Ceylon. Finally arriving at
Calicut. Like the other times, time was short so I let the fleet split up at Calicut. After stopping at
Calicut, I felt not so well about my health condition now. I decided to remain in Calicut, leaving
lieutenants to accomplish the missions set out for them, the other people joining my voyage. Tell
them to trade with the Arabs, and ask one of the fleets sent representatives to Mecca and Medina.
Me myself, cannot record all of the places that we have visited. Hence, together my friends helping
each other to note down, where we have been stopped and visited. Li Xing has written down:
Coimbatore (Ganbali), Bengal, Laccadive and island chain such as Liushan, Djofar, Lasa, Aden,
Mecca, Mogadishu, and Brava. Yanf Xhen, even more, he has stated that we have been visited 20
countries/places in total. He said, we also stopped at Andaman and the Nicolar islands and
neighboring countries such as Aru, Nagur, Lide and Lambri also have been visited by few of my
small ship while we were separating out. Not just only that, after separating each other into small
crew and reunion after a year, these seven men (Wang Jinghong, Li Xing, Zhu Liang, Yang Zhen,
Hong Bao, and Ma Huan) returned with commodities and valuables that they had purchased,
which included giraffes, lions, and ostriches. Later on, just as having enough things we need, all of
the fleet (small ship, main ships all of us) decided to return back to China in 1433.

People asked me, why I had to make this voyage too big it was because this old man never
The outward route of the fleet during the seventh voyage

knows when will he die, now, he is 61 and he has been suffering the illness. If I die at sea, I want the
world to know it was the best moment of my life. Even if I die, please bury me at the sea. That is
where I belong. Although, bring a braid of my hair and a pair of my shoes back to China because
China is the place that I first learn how to walk. And it would be nice if I have a grave in Nanjing.
I am not asking for anything more than that.

We have traversed more than one hundred


thousand leagues of immense water spaces, and
have beheld in the ocean huge waves like
mountains rising sky-high. We have set eyes on
barbarian regions far away hidden in a blue
Zheng He transparency of light
vapors, while our sails,
loftily unfurled like clouds, day and night continued
their course with starry speed, breasting the savage
waves as if we were treading a public
thoroughfare.