Otterman speaks... (2003-2007)
Weblog about cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore.
Otterman - Blog Home

Archives - Blog's RSS - Comments RSS - LJ - Email me - All my blogs - About me: 2004 - 2002

Make a permalink or URL tiny:
Blog email subscription

Enter your email address to receive the previous day's posts:

Categories

Mac and the Internet - NUS
Cycling - Life in Singapore - Meow
Singapore Naturalist - Mangroves
Science - World - Museum
Movies - Literature - Travel

Biology module blogs:
Biodiversity (Year 1)
Ecology (Year 3)
Structure & Function (Year 3)
Marine Biology (Year 4)
Natural History Blogs:
The Biology Refugia
Raffles Museum Toddycats
Intl Coastal Cleanup Singapore
Labrador Park
Pulau Ubin Stories
Pulau Hantu
Yesterday.sg
Cycling in Singapore
Mac Meetup Singapore
Aboard the Götheborg
Otterman Projects
Herpnet
Zendogs/Wheels are Turning
Hopea sangal


Raffles Museum Toddycats!

Pedal Ubin!
Pasir Panjang Heritage
Raffles Museum Internship
MR-BT Briskwalkers



Mac Meetups
Singapore

Some of my kakis

Kakis at home
Lekowala
Ad & Jen
Inertia is a Sin
Halfway between the gutter and the stars
Lost in the Jungle
Dawn, Cat Welfare
Compulsive Maniac
Deadpoet's Cave
Rambling Librarian
Cooler Insights
Pencil Shavings
Moi-Carine
NatureAntz
Ling the Merciless
Philosophize Me Jelly
Dewi A

Kakis overseas
Alvin - Beijing, China:
* Alvin's spiel
Kevin - Buffalo, NY:
Theory is the Reason
Bonny - HCMC, Vietnam:
VietStuff
Jac - London, UK:
Dogged Wanderings
Jasmin - NY, NY:
The Worsted Witch
Marcus - Shanghai, China:
You only live once
Tse-Lynn - Wilmington, NC:
Musings of a barefoot traveller
Jani - Newcastle, UK:
Salted & Fried

Seow Hwa's
The Ice Cream Gallery

Local reads
Commentary Singapore
Singapore Surf
Tomorrow.sg
Screenshots

Resources
SinGeo
Museum Roundtable
Science Daily
Environmental News Network
National Geographic News
New Scientist news
Nature News
Google News
BBC
Resource Shelf
The Unofficial Apple Weblog
Boing Boing
Wired
The Daily Show
www.flickr.com
This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called My Handphone Photos. Make your own badge here.
Books


Made on a Mac with
Claris Home Page 3.0.
Blog engine: Samizdat,
based on PHPosxom,
based on Blosxom.
Updated with TextWrangler.

Creative Commons License
© N. Sivasothi, 2003
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.

Subscribe with Bloglines

Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : travel * museum * cycling * Singapore Naturalist * science * kakis * mangroves * movies * mac and the internet * meow * NUS * life in Singapore * lit * world *

Sat 11 Jun 2005

Deconstructing 1421

Category : world

Extracts from Time Asia and Muslim Heritage about Zheng He:

'Zheng He or Cheng Ho (1371-1433) is the 15th century admiral who ranks as perhaps China's greatest adventurer. A Chinese Muslim, a eunuch and warrior, Zheng He vastly outdid his approximate contemporaries, the Western naval heroes who helped define the global Age of Exploration.

For 28 years, he traveled more than 50,000 km and visited over 37 countries, and helped transform China into the region's, and perhaps the world's, 15th century superpower.'

In addition to all this, Gavin Menzies then put forward the idea that Admiral Zheng He discovered America seven decades before Christopher Columbus. Menzies' book, "1421: the Year China Discovered America," is a bestseller.

Geoff Wade, a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore is scathing in his criticism. In Koh Gui Qing'a Reuters article last month, he is quoted as saying, "It's rubbish. There is no evidence to back it up." ["Did Chinese discover America? Theory gets new life." By Koh Gui Qing. Reuters, 04 May 2005 (see web archives in Google).]

A Salon book review from 2003 opines, "A dubious new book offers an object lesson in amateurish research, slapdash editing and publishing greed." ["The Chinese discovered America. Or did they? A dubious new book offers an object lesson in amateurish research, slapdash editing and publishing greed." By Natalie Danford, Salon, 07 Jan 2003.]

So what's new about all this? Koh Gui Qing makes the point in his Reuters article:

"Although many historians dismiss the former British naval officer's theory, including some from China, the predominantly ethnic Chinese city-state of Singapore may give it a new sheen of respectability during a three-month exhibition [organized partly by Menzies himself] beginning in June."

Geoff Wade has responded comprehensively with an article entitled "1421 and All That" which was posted to the Singapore Heritage mailing list earlier today (11th June 2005). He suggests that:

"Too much money and time have been spent on the project to expect that it be cancelled. However, some means is required to save Singapore from international embarrassment. The STB could categorically state in prominent notices and on tickets that it does not endorse the exhibition, and that the contents are highly speculative and not supported by orthodox historians.

Given that the public are protected by legislation from false and misleading advertising claims in the commercial realm, should they not be protected from the marketing of fictitious history?

It's important Wade makes this effort as there already are those who have swallowed Menzies material hook, line and sinker. Oh well, but they have also enjoyed Da Vinci's Code immensely and the profit in all of this is hard to resist.

Since there is evidence of human migration from Asia to North America, c. 27,000 B.C., it all seems moot to me anyway. What seems interesting or tragic is that after these seven fantastic voyagers funded by the usurping emperor, the next government canned the missions, apparently due to an exhausted treasury (pointed out by Alvin via iChat audio while I was preparing this). Eventually this led to a loss of maritime technology and China's colonisation and exploitation by European nations and Japan.

Strange how glory depicted years later seems to revolve around how much land was conquered or visited. What about how peaceful a counry was. That doesn't make the news as much, I guess.

Anway, Dava Sobel's Longitude made me appreciate the perils of oceanic navigation. The feats of Zheng He, his navigators and crew surely evict a hat tip.

Posted at 3:51PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .