Cheng He The Syncretist

Last year, I remember there was a report on piracy off the coast of Somalia. The report said that throughout 2008, as many as 100 ships had been attacked by Somali pirates and seven of these were said to have belonged to China. China was reported to have been thus forced to send two destroyers and a supply ship out of its territorial waters, for the Gulf of Aden to be exact, for the first time in recent history. I suppose that was not a mammoth exercise. Historically, China had sent a big fleet out of its shore in the 15th century. The famed Admiral Zheng He and his armada of junks had sailed as far as the east coast of Africa and the southern Gulf region and parts of the Red Sea to trade pearls, porcelain, spice and silk. Cheng He was said to be a Muslim and had helped to propagate his faith in South East Asia. However, in around 1431, he set up a commemorative pillar at the temple of the Taoist goddess ,Tian Fei, in Fujian province, China to whom he and his sailors prayed for safety at sea. He also set up the Galle Trilingual Inscription around 1410 in Sri Lanka and there were records of offerings he made at a Buddhist mountain temple. It is thus pointed out too that possibly, he is a syncretist - something our world need badly, I should say...

Comments

Liudmila said…
The stories about pirates are so numerous. Till some years ago I was sure, they exist only in the fables. But the sailors tell really terrible things about today situation...
footiam said…
In South East Asia, the countries were formerly colonised by Western people, normally British, Portuguese and the Dutch. Some people think they were pirates. Stories of pirates from neighbouring countries attacking local fishermen still exist.

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