General Cheng-ho took prisoners from Ceylon to China.

General Cheng-ho took prisoners from Ceylon to China.

China and Sri Lanka have a historical relationship. The relationship was largely friendly. But there are some instances where it is a bit flawed. General Cheng-ho is a historical figure who finds the Sino-Lanka relationship strained. Here is a description of him.

General Cheng-ho was born as a Muslim in the name of Ma-ho in the Yunnan Province of southwestern China in 1371. His father was Ma-Hajji. AD Under the Yuan Dynasty, founded by Kubilai Khan around 1271, Yunnan province was ruled by a Muslim named Syed-Ajjan-Shams-al-Din-Omar. Ma-ho (General Cheng-ho) is his grandson. (I am a Chinese form of Mohammed.) It was the Ming Dynasty that ousted the Yuan Dynasty in China. In the autumn of 1381, the Ming armies invaded Yunnan Province. At that time Ma-ho’s father, Ma Hajji Ming, participated in the Yuan protests in Yunnan against the army and he died in the fighting. Cheng Hotel was about ten years old at the time. Cheng Ho and several other children were taken prisoner by the Ming army.

At that time, there was a punishment in China for those who were taken as prisoners to cut off their genitals and turn them into eunuchs. AD In 1385, General Cheng-ho also underwent genital mutilation. He was 13 years old at the time. Later, Che-ho or Shu-di became a servant of the Ming nobleman’s palace. During his tenure as a palace servant, I or I gradually gained the trust of my lord Shu-di. AD Beijing ruled from 1380 on under the Zhou-di Prince Ming Dynasty. To the north of Beijing, there was a border of hostile Mongol tribes. Prince Shu-de took part in my war campaign against the Mongols. The prince later changed the name of Ma-ho to Cheng Ho. He is also known as Zhang-hi and Sang-bao. San-bao means Buddhist tri-gold.
AD In 1402, Shu-de-Kamaraya was crowned Emperor Yung-Lo. A year later, Emperor Yung-Lo appointed General Cheng-ho as an admiral and set sail. The purpose of sea exploration was to gradually expand Chinese power beyond China. Cheng-ho was the first eunuch in Chinese history to be promoted to the top of the Chinese army.

General Cheng-ho’s first maritime voyage took place between 1405 and 1407. About 62 ships and 27,000 men have participated in the event. Sources said that the ship was 122 meters long and 50 meters wide with timber ships. The fleet consisted of merchant ships, ships with food and water for ships, ships for military purposes, ships for defense and assault purposes.

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Chinese sailors used a Chinese-made compass built during the voyage. They have determined their latitudes based on the Northern Star in the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Cross in the Southern Hemisphere. Communication between each of the ships in the fleet was carried out using pigeons, bells, lamps, and banners.
Cheng Ho’s first maritime voyage began in Nanjing, China, and sailed through the Yangtze River into the East China Sea, thence to Vietnam, Java, Malacca, Sri Lanka, and then to Cochin and Calicut, Indiana. On the return journey from Calicut to China, Cheng-Hotel had to contend with a group of pirates near Sumatra. Cheng-ho, the leader of the pirates, was taken to China as a prisoner.

Cheng-ho’s second maritime voyage, 1407-1409 AD. Between 1409-1411 a third maritime voyage took place. He came to Sri Lanka on two-thirds of Cheng-ho’s first maritime voyages. Some Chinese sources say that Cheng-ho led his second voyage, but did not personally attend. It is said that he did not attend the ceremony to stay in China and repair the shrine of the Chinese Marine Goddess. So it is probable that Cheng-ho came to Sri Lanka on his first voyage and the third voyage, or that Cheng-ho’s representatives participated in the second voyage.

Cheng-ho’s maritime journeys were economic as well as political. Cheng-ho’s aim was to strengthen diplomatic relations with the countries he visited politically and make them allies of China. To this end, he went to the rulers of the landed areas and greeted them peacefully by sending ambassadors to his master, the Emperor Yonglo. Local rulers have often accepted Cheng-ho’s protection, and occasionally they have not. Sri Lankan hero Alekshwara was thus opposed to Cheng-Hotel.

Cheng-ho came to Sri Lanka during the Gampola kingdom. At that time, King Buwanekabahu V took the throne and ruled the southwestern part of the island from his noble king Veera Alakeshwara Kotte. Cheng-ho came to the area of ​​Alakeshwar. According to Chinese sources, Cheng-Hotel has not responded favorably. Chinese sources also state that the Alakesvars was a cruel ruler who oppressed the people and did not properly respect the Dhamma of the Buddha. Later, in 1409, Cheng-ho returned to Sri Lanka with a gift from the Chinese Emperor, offering gifts to the King of Ceylon. It was Cheng-ho’s third maritime voyage (AD 1409-1411). At that point, Cheng-ho fought against him for six days without a favorable response from Veera Alakeshwar.

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An important inscription confirming Cheng Ho’s Ceylon visit was discovered in 1911 in Galle, Sri Lanka. Written in Chinese, Tamil, and Persian, it is known as the Trilingual Inscription in Galle. It is mentioned in the Chinese language that the Ming Emperor Yung-lo sent many sacred objects to a Buddhist temple under the command of Cheng-ho and Wang-ching-lien in his Seventh Dynasty. Written in Persian, it is difficult to read. Since the inscription was issued in the ninth year of Emperor Yung-Lo, it is clear that Cheng-ho’s third voyage was to take Sri Lankan prisoners to China. It is said that the prisoners who were later taken to Sri Lanka were sent back to Sri Lanka.

Emperor Eun-Lo Between 1413 and 1415, Cheng-Hotel had to make a maritime voyage for the fourth time. This year Cheng-ho sailed with 63 ships and 28560 men. The purpose of the trip was to reach Emerson, a wealthy trading town in the Persian Gulf. It has also arrived in Sri Lanka and Bengal has reached Ormos via the Maldives Calicut. From the city of Ormus, they purchased valuable pearls, and from there the fleet sailed to Aiden, sailed across the Red Sea to Jeddah and Mecca, then sailed south to Mozambique on the east coast of Africa and returned to China. Since Cheng-ho was a Muslim by birth, he is presumed to have gone to Mecca. According to Chinese sources, Cheng-ho’s crew also sailed Sri Lanka on this voyage.

It may be that the prisoners who were taken away from Sri Lanka were brought back to Sri Lanka on the fourth visit to Cheng-ho’s four-day voyage to the Persian Gulf between 1413 and 1415 since they were in China for two years. On the other hand, it is possible that the Chinese sailors were on this journey as Sri Lanka was at the crossroads of the shipping lanes of the Middle East. As a result of Cheng-ho’s voyage, 19 foreign rulers sent messengers to the Chinese Emperor.

Cheng-ho’s fifth voyage Took place between 1417-1419. The main purpose of the trip was to bring back the ambassadors to China on their fourth visit. So Cheng-Hotel had to set sail in the areas that were primarily on the fifth voyage. AD Cheng-ho’s sixth voyage occurred between 1421-1422. During these two voyages, he sailed near Japan, including Ryukyu Island, Borneo, Kenya, Mozambique, Zanzibar, Mombasa, and Somalia. The rulers of the Cheng-ho sailors gave gifts to the Chinese emperor as gifts. King Yasif al-Din Hamza Shah of Bengal gifted a giraffe to the Emperor Yung-Lo. Rulers in Africa have also given gifts such as lions, leopards, zebras, and ostriches.

Emperor Yung-Lo died in 1424, and his son Shu-ga became the emperor. The new emperor had no interest in voyages. The new emperor believed that the cost of these voyages would outweigh the revenue. The new emperor did not pay attention to the voyage and was appointed commander of a military camp in Cheng-ho. However, in 1426, Emperor Shu-Ga died, and his son Shu-Zhanji became the new Emperor. He became interested in the New Imperial voyages and was summoned by Chengho in 1431 for a new voyage. Accordingly, AD. Between 1431-1433, Chengho’s seventh voyage took place.

The voyage was attended by about 100 ships and 27,500 men, and the destination was East Africa. Cheng-ho was killed during the trip. He was 63 years old. His crew took his body to Nanking and buried it.
Cheng-ho had sailed about 48280 kilometers across the ocean. His voyage helped spread the Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean region. He may have traveled to more than twelve countries. But there were people in the Chinese Empire who opposed these expeditions. Because Cheng-ho was a eunuch, other officials opposed to seeing a eunuch occupy a high position in the Ming Empire. Similarly, conservative officials favored a policy of isolation that was not open to the outside world, rather than contact with foreign countries. Even today, China’s historical policy of not opening up to the outside world can be seen.

When Emperor Zhou-Shanji summoned Cheng-ho and engaged in an exploration of the sea, Cheng-ho’s death reduced the attention of other officers to navigate. So the Chinese influence over the Indian Ocean was reduced. Cheng-ho’s last voyage took place in AD. Between 1431-1433. About 1498 Vasco da Gama arrived in the Indian Ocean. Over the next few centuries, the Indian Ocean region came under European domination. But if Chinese explorers continued to pursue Chinese exploration in the Indian Ocean, beginning with Cheng-ho, the Europeans would have found it difficult to establish power in the Indian Ocean. If so, the history of the world would be no different.

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