I remember all the fuss this book made upon it’s release a number of years back. A film documentary was also prepared and showed beautiful cinematography …and even contained fascinating scenes of historic anecdotes – like the visit to an African village where some ancient Chinese porcelain were maintained as important family heirlooms…by a village who had distant Chinese ancestors.
All of this really stimulates cerebral material. So how factual is all of this?
I don’t know, but everyone enjoys some level of connection to some historic footnote. Especially when it relates to our roots. It’s just part of human nature to extract some sort of belonging somewhere and somehow. And frankly, if we all try hard enough, we’d soon discover that we’re all related through some distant ancestor. And everyone likes to believe their ancestors/ people made some sort of important contribution to humanity.
My blog post yesterday “First Nations versus Chinese?“, ushered in a wealth of comments via email to me. I guess not everyone wants to post their thoughts on this blog. In any case, two of the comments posted here, relates to the “1421” work by Gavin Menzies. I felt the comments and observations worthy of a thread post of it’s own. So here in it’s entirety, is a comment by respected Asia Inc. columnist, Mr. Wang Tai Peng:
You may find this study of early Chinese presence in Vancouver island before the Europeans by Gavin Menzies interesting and useful!
• When writing the hardback version of 1421 I thought Zheng He’s ships were composed of Chinese junks with a few Indian ships who joined a Calicut. As time has gone by more and more evidence has shown that substantial numbers of Indian and Korean ships joined the convoy. Recent DNA evidence coupled with finds of Iron implements and weapons has shown that the Japanese contingent was very large indeed.
• DNA shows as that Chou Wen’s fleet on their voyage from North America across the Atlantic contained a Korean division and that his ships had North American Indians abroad – either as passengers or slaves but no Japanese.
• Zhou Man’s fleet on the other hand contained many Japanese ships. Where Chinese DNA is found along Zhou Man’s track, so is Japanese DNA across the Pacific to Australia and New Zealand (as detailed in Talk ‘C’) and North and South America.
• Zheng He’s Fleet were in effect a floating ‘United Nations’. Vasco da Gama was correct all these years ago when he reported that a huge multinational fleet of 800 ships, had preceded him to Calicut on the Malabar Coast of India in ‘about’ 1419.
• Chinese policy was to bring all the world into Confucian harmony. To do this they required to be able to converse with local peoples across the world in their own language.
• Zheng He set up a school for foreign interpreters in Nanjing. By the time of his sixth voyage, interpreters aboard the fleet could converse in 17 languages. One of Emperor Zhu Di’s first orders was to send Zheng He on his first voyage in 1403 to recruit foreign navigators.
• www.1421.tv contains DNA and other evidence of Japanese voyages under the command of Zhou Man to the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America, thence across the Pacific to Australia. They left their genetic fingerprints which can be seen in the DNA evidence contained in “The Genetic Legacy of Zheng He’s Fleets”.
• We have recently been informed of DNA results of the original native peoples of Vancouver Island – the Salish people. The principal report on which I rely is that of Professor Mariana Fernandez Cobo in ‘The American Journal of Physical Anthropology’ 2002. She and her colleague’s analysed urine of the Salish Indians, the Navajo; the Guarani of the Amazon and of mainland Japan. The DNA of all four, the entire sequence CAGTTAGA is absolutely identical. This would be a coincidence of 65,536 to one. The Salish, Navajo and Guarani studied in the report can only be Japanese.
• In itself this is of great interest but equally fascinating is the repeated evidence that Japanese ships sailed with Zhou Man. North of Vancouver Island (Salish – Japanese DNA) are the Queen Charlotte Islands whose original inhabitants the Haida have ‘Chinese’ DNA (Professor Bryan Sykes).
• This mirrors what is found in the Amazon. The Guarani have Japanese DNA (Professor Cobo) whilst the tribes living around them the Karitiana and Surui have ‘Chinese’ DNA (Professor Novick and Colleagues). All of these Amazonian peoples have been cut off from the outside world for centuries.
• The Chachi of Ecuador have Japanese DNA (Professor Torroni and colleagues): their neighbours the Paez, Guambiano and Ingano have Chinese DNA (Professor Novick and Colleagues).
• The Navajo have both Japanese (Professor Cobo) and Chinese (Professor Novick) DNA.
• As time goes by doubtless more and more evidence will be found – it will be placed on the website.
And this comment from Muskie, also from the comments posted on yesterdays thread:
If you believe what Gavin Menzie wrote in 1421. Chinese visited Vancouver Island possibly long before Europeans. Of course there is some debate which Europeans really were the first to go some place. Every Canadian knows the vikings sailed to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia before Columbus “discovered” America.
There are claims of pottery techniques being transfered as well as laquer techniques not to mention introducing chickens to indigenous peoples up the Pacific coast.
I think he has pretty strong evidence that China sailed to Africa, whether they rounded the horn I don’t know. I also think there is really compelling evidence that Chinese sailed South, all over South East Asia/ South Pacific and Australia isn’t impossible. But reaching North and South American or Antarctica is a tougher sell.
All you have to do is look at the artwork and faces of the indegenous peoples of Northern Japan and West Coast First Nations, I think the land bridge theory is also valid, but they didn’t have pottery, or smithing, or lacquer techniques back then so shipwrecks and pottery shards are from more modern times.
There is a theory the Chinese or someone sailed to the Caribean before Columbus, as both Columbus and Drake had maps. The book is a bit sensational and you can get all the key points from the television documentry but you might want to look to 1421 for long term examples of Chinese influence and co-operation with indigenous peoples of North and South America.