Revisiting the Jewel of Muscat

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Maritime Experiential Museum

Remember this?

The Jewel of Muscat, donated to Singapore by the Sultanate of Oman. A reconstruction of the Belitung ship.

Yes, it’s the Jewel of Muscat! It is a reconstruction of the Belitung shipwreck built by the Sultanate of Oman and then sailed to Singapore as a gift. I was aboard her when she called at Georgetown in 2010; now it is on permanent display at the Maritime Experiential Museum and Aquarium (MEMA) in Sentosa.
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Malacca to host Zheng He seminar in July

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A seminar of Admiral Zheng He’s (Cheng Ho) voyages to Malacca and beyond will be held in the Malaysian state of Malacca in July. The seminar is organised by the Melaka Museums Corporation, the Malaysian Museums Department, the Malaysian Museums Department, the International Zheng He Society and the Cheng Ho Cultural Museum.

Admiral Zheng He
photo credit: hathu-

Seminar To Mark Cheng Ho’s Voyage To Melaka
Bernama, 11 May 2010
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Chinese archaeologists to search for Cheng Ho's fleet in Africa

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Agencies in China and Kenya penned an agreement last month to investigate the cultural links between China and Kenya in Kenya’s Lamu Archpelago, which include an exploration of sunken ships from Admiral Cheng Ho’s (Zheng He) treasure fleet.

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Chinese experts to explore sunken ships from Cheng Ho’s fleet in Africa
People’s Daily Online, 24 February 2010
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Coming soon to a cinema near you: Cheng Ho the movie!

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15 August 2007 (Antara, Bernama) – An epic TV series based on the life of the Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He), starring no less than two former Indonesian ministers! Yes, that’s the gist of the two headlines about the Cheng Ho seried currently being filmed in Bangkok. The series is a joint production between six ASEAN nations and the two ministers involved play the lead of Cheng Ho as well as an unnamed Majapahit king. Cheng Ho is somewhat of an ancient celebrity in Southeast Asia, a Muslim eunuch who commanded “treasure fleets” and travelled as far as East Africa in search of new territories and tributes. One report says that the drama is intended to reveal how Cheng Ho helped to bring Islam to Indonesia – I’m not sure how big a role Cheng Ho actually played as I am given to believe that the spread of Islam in the region was more of a result of the influence of Arab traders and sufis operating in the region.

Ex-minister plays Admiral Cheng Ho in ASEAN film

Prof. Yusril Ihza Mahendra, former minister/state secretary, is currently in Bangkok for shooting a drama colossal film on Admiral Cheng Ho.

Yusril played the role as Admiral Cheng Ho in the film jointly produced by six member countries of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations).

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Historic Malacca to be re-created?

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19 April 2007 (New Straits Times) – The state government of Malacca intends to rebuild the ‘historic’ Malacca, that of the 15th century which is regarded as the golden age of Malacca Sultanate with plans for two replica-ships-cum-museums, a marina and a windmill. The Malacca Sultanate is considered the ‘start’ of the Malay civilisation and was later in history occupied by the Portuguese and the Dutch.

New Straits Times, 19 Apr 2007 : Sungei Malacca

Malacca ‘returns’ to the 15th century

Fifteenth-century Malacca was a busy marketplace, with trading ships from around the world sailing up and down its river. Inspired by the past, the state government aims to replicate the busy surroundings of the river in the Malacca Sultanate era.

By April next year, tourists will be able to get a feel of this historic city’s heyday.

“We are going to build more replicas of ships which will serve as museums along Sungai Melaka,” said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam.

Speaking after a state exco meeting at Seri Negeri yesterday, Mohd Ali said he already had two ships in mind.

The first is Kapal Dendang Berahi, the ship in which Sultan Mansur Shah sailed to Majapahit to wed its princess, while the second, to be named Kapal Laksamana Cheng Ho, is a replica of the vessel used by the famous admiral.

Related Books:
The Malay Sultanates 1400-1700 (The Encyclopedia of Malaysia)

More proof that Zheng He founded America?

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17 June 2006 (The Straits Times, by way of the Singapore Heritage mailing list) – A Ming dynasty medal unearthed in North Carolina suggest Chinese contact with America before Columbus. The 1421 thesis is highly controversial and academics have provided a point-by-point rebuttal of Gavin Menzies’ work in 1421 Exposed. (Unfortunately, the Straits Times is a pay-site and a link cannot be provided. I’d be happy to forward the article to you if you email me.)

More proof that Zheng He founded America?

MORE evidence has been unearthed which suggests that Chinese Ming dynasty explorer Zheng He might have founded America decades before Christopher Columbus did in the late 15th century.

A seven-cm-wide brass medal, complete with Ming dynasty inscriptions and dug up kilometres inland from the North Carolina coast, was yesterday unveiled here for the first time.

The six-Chinese-character inscription, ‘Da Ming Xuan De Wei Ci’, on the medal translates into ‘Awarded by Xuan De of Great Ming’. It refers to the period between 1426 and 1435, the reign of Emperor Xuan Zong – long before Columbus landed in the New World in 1492.

This, claimed the medal’s owner Lee Siu Leung, ties in with the fact that Xuan Zong had, in 1430, commissioned Admiral Zheng to embark on his last voyage to announce his accession to the throne to foreign nations.

1421 Exposed

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1421 is the Gavin Menzies book published in 2002 alleging that the Chinese* discovered America earlier than Columbus – and in fact circled round the globe. I’ve read it, and it paints an interesting argument but without hard evidence to back it up, it really is just a load of rubbish. The book and its allegations have been getting a lot of airtime in mainstream media and Menzie’s roadshows (including one in Singapore) and some academics, led by Geoff Wade at the National University of Singapore have been campaigning to set the record straight. More importantly, they’ve been lobbying authorities and publishers to get the book out of the History section and place it in Fiction. Check out their website to see their blow-by-blow refutations of the book.

* The Chinese, led by Admiral Zheng He[/tag], who has been documented as having travelled through Southeast Asia, including Dan-Ma-Hsi (Temasek, or Singapore) and Melaka, and as far as Persia.