The National Library Board is organising 2 activities under the Zheng He's 600th Anniversary Celebrations. They are the 3rd International Conference of Institutes and Libraries on Chinese Overseas Studies and the Zheng He & Maritime Asia Exhibition.
The Conference, takes place from 18-20 August at the RELC International Hotel, will focus on Maritime Asia and the Chinese Overseas from 1405-2005. It will feature over 80 researchers and academics presenting their findings and opinions. Among them is Professor Wang Gungwu, Director of the East Asian Institute and the Distinguished Advisor of the Conference and HuayiNet. Prof Wang is an expert in the fields of Chinese History, the Chinese Overseas, Nationalism, and Migration. The conference is organised into 23 parallel sessions, 5 of which in English, Chinese and Malay, will be dedicated to Zheng He.
Duration: 13 Aug 2005 – 10 Feb 2006
Venue: National Library, Level 10
Opening Hours: 10 am – 9 pm daily
Closed on Public Holidays
Organiser: National Library Board
The Zheng He & Maritime Asia Exhibition, held at the National Library (Level 10) Victoria Street, will run for 6 months from 13 August 2005 to 10 February 2006. It aims to enhance public's interest in learning about Zheng He and his influence on the maritime history of Southeast Asia. The exhibition will showcase the various ports-of-call and highlight the cultural, social and political influences, which have, to some extent, contributed to Singapore's multi-cultural identity and entrepot status. Exhibits include ancient publications, maps, photographs, videos, artefacts, replicas and literature, which will be accompanied by detailed descriptions and supported by in-depth research.
The 5 Zones
For centuries, China, Arabia, India and Southeast Asia traded with one another, first over land and later through an extensive network of maritime trade routes. With its strategic position on the east-west trade routes, Singapore has long been important in these journeys.
The "Zheng He & Maritime Asia" exhibition is about one of the most amazing chapters in the history of maritime Asia- the seven great voyages between 1405 and 1433 led by a man called Zheng He. As an envoy of the Ming dynasty, Zheng He sailed from China to Africa and back.
There are only a few recorded details of the life of Zheng He. Over the hundreds of years since his death, some gaps in the story have been 'filled in' with anecdotes and legends. More recently, scholars have begun studying Zheng He's life and, in the process, discovered new information.
The "Zheng He & Maritime Asia" exhibition will cover the early maritime trade from the Tang Dynasty to mark the beginning of the Maritime Silk Road Development and its peak during the Ming Dynasty. It will focus on trade, culture, foreign relations, maritime technology and its influence brought about by the impact of the voyages between the trading countries of Maritime Asia.
The exhibition is sectioned into 5 zones, each with a particular focus. The exhibition spans across a 700sqm area on Level 10 and a model of the Baochuan or treasure ship will be showcased in the main lobby on Level 1.
Zone 1: Early Maritime Asia (早期海洋亚洲)
The seafaring people of Asia have been sailing the seas to trade for centuries. From approximately 200 BC, traders were traveling as far as Arabia and Japan on commercial voyages. This zone looks at the development of early maritime trade among traders within China, India and Southeast Asia. It also explores the economic and cultural interactions within the Middle East, China, India and Southeast Asia through the Tang (618 – 907 AD), Song (960 – 1279 AD) and Yuan (1280 – 1368 AD) dynasties forming the foundation for the seven expeditions undertaken by Zheng He.
• Original chinese ceramics from the Tang Cargo excavated at Belitung.
• Model of a Song dynasty ship
• Yuan dynasty water compass
Zone 2: The Rightful Ruler （正统的君主）
In 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang founder of the Dynasty Ming ('Brilliant') assumed the imperial reign title of Emperor Hongwu ('Vast Military Power'). Overlooking his soldier son Zhu Di as his successor, he selected his scholarly grandson, Jian Wen as his heir. When Jian Wen became Emperor, Zhu Di used his battle skills to overthrow Jian Wen, taking the reign title Emperor Yongle ('Perpetual Happiness'). This zone looks into the historical background of the seven voyages, detailing the establishment of the Ming dynasty, Emperor Yongle's rise to power, his motives for launching the voyages and so on.
• An imperial edict carved in stone issued by Emperor Yongle in 1407 ordering the protection of all Muslim minorities in China. It is an indication of Yongle's receptiveness towards foreigners.
Zone 3: The Imperial Fleet （皇家舰队）
Emperor Yongle adored colossal projects such as building a fleet of ships at the imperial shipyards at Longjiang. This zone features the advanced shipbuilding and navigation techniques of the period – the building of enormous ships, the techniques of managing a large fleet consisting of hundreds of ships and personnel, the use of a compass as well as a navigation and star chart to aid navigation. It also highlights two land markings - Longyamen (literally "Dragon's Teeth Gate") and Danmaxi (Temasek) on Zheng He's navigation chart, which are attributable to Singapore.
• Yuan dynasty hand cannon discovered off the coast of Riau Archipelago
• Longyamen as featured in Wubei zhi (Treatise on Armament Technology) （《武备志》）, a military encyclopedia written in 1621
• Nine types of Zheng He's ship models on loan from Quanzhou Maritime Museum (including treasure ship, horse ship, supply ship, troop transport, combat ship, water tanker, great eight-oared ship, secondary eight-oared ship and six-oared ship)
A 3-D animation of Zheng He's Baochuan passing through Longyamen, sponsored by Keppel Singmarine Pte Ltd. It shows the Orang Laut fishermen watching in amazement as the countless huge sailing ships approach Batu Berlayar on their way home from their voyage to the Western Oceans.
Zone 4: The Voyages Gallery (下西洋长廊 )
Zheng He commanded seven great expeditions to more than 30 countries between 1405 and 1433. Zheng He's tactics for dealing with foreign nations varied with the situation. Some rulers were impressed by the fleet's splendour. Some were cowed by its military might, some seduced into acknowledging imperial supremacy with gifts. This zone features the various ports-of-call Zheng He visited, the different commodities and currencies that were exchanged between the crew and the local people, and the existing customs and traditions which continue to exist today.
• The rhinoceros horn was a unique traded commodity in Champa, Vietnam. Chinese physicians used it as an antidote for snake poison during the Ming dynasty.
• 16th century Ming dynasty porcelain
• Currencies representing the different ports of call
"Be an Explorer!" is a unique interactive game designed to give the player a feel of maritime travel and regional trading in Asia and Africa in the 15th century. The game comprises three segments: the 7 Voyages, An Explorer's Quiz and Match the Treasures.
Zone 5: Zheng He's Legacy （郑和的丰功伟绩）
After the death of Emperor Hongxi, the new Emperor Xuande ordered one last voyage to the Western Ocean in 1431. According to some sources Zheng He died on this voyage and was buried at sea. His sailors performed the funeral according to the Muslim tradition and only his shoes and a braid of his hair was returned to Nanjing for burial. This zone explores the impact of the voyages and the influence of Zheng He on the Southeast Asian region. More specifically, it looks at how Zheng He continues to be revered and worshipped in Southeast Asia, the role his voyages played in encouraging Chinese traders to continue seeking fortune in Southeast Asia and the influence he had over the culture and religion of the local communities. It will also feature the history behind Singapore's rise as an entrepot connecting China and Southeast Asia with the rest of the world.
• Qing dynasty Mazu statue
• 16th century Ming porcelain excavated from Kallang Basin
• Images of Zheng He temples in Southeast Asia.