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Zheng He, formerly romanized as Cheng Ho, was a Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat, fleet admiral, and court eunuch during China's early Ming dynasty. He was originally born as Ma He in a Muslim family, later adopted the conferred surname Zheng from Emperor Yongle. Zheng commanded expeditionary voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Western Asia, and East Africa from 1405 to 1433. His larger ships stretched 120 meters or more in length. These carried hundreds of sailors on four tiers of decks.

As a favorite of the Yongle Emperor, whose usurpation he assisted, Zheng rose to the top of the imperial hierarchy and served as commander of the southern capital Nanjing (the capital was later moved to Beijing by the Yongle Emperor). These voyages were long neglected in official Chinese histories but have become well known in China and abroad since the publication of Liang Qichao's Biography of Our Homeland's Great Navigator, Zheng He in 1904. A trilingual stele left by the navigator was discovered on the island of Ceylon shortly thereafter.

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Zheng He, formerly romanized as Cheng Ho, was a Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat, fleet admiral, and court eunuch during China's early Ming dynasty. He was originally born as Ma He in a Muslim family, later adopted the conferred surname Zheng from Emperor Yongle. Zheng commanded expeditionary voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Western Asia, and East Africa from 1405 to 1433. His larger ships stretched 120 meters or more in length. These carried hundreds of sailors on four tiers of decks.

As a favorite of the Yongle Emperor, whose usurpation he assisted, Zheng rose to the top of the imperial hierarchy and served as commander of the southern capital Nanjing (the capital was later moved to Beijing by the Yongle Emperor). These voyages were long neglected in official Chinese histories but have become well known in China and abroad since the publication of Liang Qichao's Biography of Our Homeland's Great Navigator, Zheng He in 1904. A trilingual stele left by the navigator was discovered on the island of Ceylon shortly thereafter. More...

 
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