Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Why 1421 is Hogwash: A translation of a Chinese Expert's Letter

This appeared on H-Asia. I have now updated this with a new letter that shows that the map is a modern fake. I have updated it with yet another letter showing the map is a fake. See below:

H-ASIA
January 17, 2006

Further to discussion of 'the map' (extension of "Menzies and 1421)

From: Geoff Wade

Dear H-Asia members,

The following piece was posted on the web yesterday by Professor Gong Ying-yan. I have done a rough draft translation of the article which might be of interest.

Mr Liu Gang is holding a press conference in Beijing this (16th ) evening. Details follow the translation. Mr Menzies is also slated to "unveil" the map at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, U.K. on Tuesday 17 January. I do hope that they have realised by now that it is a hoax.

Best,

Geoff Wade



On the "Overall Map of the Geography of All Under Heaven" and Zheng He's Fleets
by

Gong Ying-yan of the Ningbo Institute of Technology, Zhejiang University

(Written 15 Jan 2006)

(Chinese original at:
http://bbs.omnitalk.org/alumni/messages/28967.html)

(Draft translation by Geoff Wade 16 January 2006)

(Text)

2005 marks the 600th anniversary of the first voyage to the Western Ocean by Zheng He, and many people both within and outside China have employed various forms to commemorate this great achievement in global navigational history. Of course, in this, not everyone's aims have been the same. Abroad, the retired British commander Gavin Menzies in his book "1421: the Year China Discovered the World" suggested that Zheng He's fleets had carried out the first circumnavigation of the world. His views were responded to by many people who were not very sure of their facts and were also subject to criticism by some scholars. After a number of critics had shown through clear historical facts that Menzies viewpoint was completely mistaken, at the end of 2005, someone advised that a recently-discovered ancient Chinese map could prove Menzies' claims and proclaimed that "history should be rewritten to show that Zheng He's fleets were the first to discover the entire world!" http://huangzhangjin.blogchina.com/3880436.html

It was learned that this map, named "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" had on its left panel the characters "Copied in the second month of spring in the kui-wei year of the Qian-long reign (1763) from a map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court of the 16th year of Yong-le reign of the Ming dynasty, drawn by Mo Yi-tong." That is to say, this map was drawn by someone named Mo Yi-tong in 1763, and it was partially based on a "map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court" drawn in the 16th year of the Yong-le reign (1418) during the Ming dynasty. The map has the following notation: "Those annotations without red borders are not from the original map." This means that all those with red borders were from the original "map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court". On the "Overall map of the Geography of all under Heaven" there are found the words: "In the 13th year of the Yong-le reign (1415), I followed the senior envoy, the eunuch director Ma San-bao, and others to Bengal and other barbarian lands all the way to Hormuz and such countries, to read the royal proclamations and confer rewards. In the 16th year (1418), I returned to the capital." As these words have a red border, it can be assumed that these were on the original "map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court". The words "I followed the senior envoy, the eunuch director Ma San-bao, and others to Bengal and other barbarian lands all the way to Hormuz and such countries, to read the royal proclamations and confer rewards" certainly refer to Zheng He's voyages to the Western Ocean. The "map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court" was thus seemingly drawn on the basis of Zheng He's voyages to the Western Ocean, and the "Overall map of the Geography of all under Heaven" copied the "map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court". Thus, the "Overall map of the Geography of all under Heaven" reflected the scope of the activities of Zheng He in his voyages to the Western Ocean. What surprises people is that the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" is "an almost complete world map", "including not only all the major continents (as well as the South Pole, the North Pole and Greenland), with red-bordered annotations on both the American and Australian continents." From this we can conclude that Zheng He's fleets truly did conduct a global circumnavigation. These were the basic claims of the person who revealed details of this map.

This news attracted the attention of the global media and researchers, and we were all waiting to catch a glimpse of this ancient map, hoping that this newly-discovered and important historical source would powerfully promote the deeper development of Zheng He research. On 12 January 2006, we finally had more news: The British journal "The Economist" had published a colour photo of this map. It noted that the map was going to be unveiled in Beijing and London on 16 January.

Although the photograph of the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" published in The Economist was not large, and the characters could not be clearly seen, the basic shape of the various continents of the globe could be observed very clearly. On closer examination, the map proved to be a great disappointment: Its origins lay certainly not in any Chinese map from the age of Zheng He, but rather in European world maps of the early 17th century.

The "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" is a transversal projection world map, and we only have to have a glance through the many world maps published in Europe from the 1630s to the middle of the 1700s, such as the world maps of the family of the Dutchman Johan Blaeu, to easily see that this is completely copied from a European map. The only difference is that on the European maps, Asia is placed on the right side and America is situated on the left side, whereas on this map China is in the centre. We know that at the end of the 16th century, when Matteo Ricci was translating maps published in Europe into Chinese-language maps, such a rearrangement was made for the first time. (It needs to be pointed out here that people generally believe that Ricci made this change to accord with the Chinese view that China lay at the centre of the world. However, Ricci himself said that all countries in drawing their maps place their own country at the centre of the map). This way of drawing maps initiated by Ricci was followed by later missionaries who came to China, such as the "Complete map of the 10,000 countries" by Jules Aleni (1582-1649) and the "Complete Map of the Earth" by Francois Sambiasi (1582-1649). It became a model, extending even up until today.

In 1760, three years before the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" was drawn in 1763, the French missionary Michel Benoist (1715-1774) drew his "Complete Map of the Earth" as a present for the Qian-long emperor in commemorations of his 50 years on the throne. Somewhat earlier, the Belgian missionary Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-1688) had also drawn a "Complete Map of the Earth". These two maps spread quite widely and copies of them are still available to us today. Of these two world maps, that of Benoist copied the maps published in Europe exactly, with Asia on the right of the map and America on the left. However, the world map drawn by Verbiest was like the world map done by Ricci. The form of the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" is identical with that of Verbiest's "Complete Map of the Earth", with the exception of some differences in the area of the two poles and Australia. This can only mean that the map on which the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" was based was a more accurate European map later than Verbeist's.

From a cartographic point of view, there were three main preconditions for drawing a map like the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven". 1) There must be a belief that the world is a globe and not a flat plane. 2) In order to represent the globe as a flat plane world map, there needs to be knowledge of and methods for projection. 3) There must have been a very clear knowledge of the actual geographical situations of the various continents of the globe, or else they could not have been represented so accurately on the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven". In the history of Western cartography, we can find the progress of the development of these three preconditions. The "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" reflects the results of the development of European cartography, and particularly the major achievements following European overseas explorations and the development of cartography.

Conversely, in the China of Zheng He's time, these three major preconditions did not exist. We only need to compare the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" with the "Navigation Maps of Zheng He" to know this. No only in the time of Zheng he, but actually throughout China's history (excluding those maps influenced by Ricci and other Western missionaries), there is no map which portrays the world as a globe and projects this globe onto a flat plane. The traditional geographers in China could not produce a map like the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven". The map does not belong to an ancient Chinese cartographic tradition, but rather to a European cartographic tradition.

Of course, some might at a stretch claim that even though in the extant Chinese texts we have not found precursors and successors of the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven", that this does not mean that there was no source for these in the past, and it is completely possible that these may all have been lost. And also that it is completely possible that soldiers who accompanied Zheng he's distant voyages might have included some geniuses who discovered extremely advanced map projection methods and drew these maps. And that the accuracy of the shape of the continents on the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" shows that not only were Zheng He's fleets the first to circumnavigate the globe, but that they also conducted geo-surveys of a huge scale. As the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" clearly states the "map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court" on which it is based came from the actual voyages of Zheng He. Thus, the key here is to determine whether or not the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" has any links with the Zheng He voyages. If this map clearly has links with the Zheng He voyages, then the scientific history of China and the rest of the world needs to be rewritten, as must even the final chapters of the history of human civilization. If the map is not linked with Zheng He, we cannot ascribe the map to Zheng He, and we can assign the account of Zheng He travelling around the globe to the realm of fairytale. In brief, if the 1418 map truly existed, Menzies' 1421 story of China discovering the world in 1421 will be supported!

The "map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court" on which the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" was based no longer exists, and we have no knowledge of its original form. At the top of the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" are the words: "Those annotations without red borders are not from the original map." This means that all those with red borders were from the original "map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court". This is an essential pivot intimately tying together the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven", the map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court" and Zheng He. It is also the only thread for us if we want to resolve the crucial issues. Although the annotations which have been revealed so far are not numerous, we only need to take one example to be able to powerfully affirm that that important statement on the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" that "Those annotations without red borders are not from the original map" is not correct, or at least show that some of those within red borders could not have been on any "map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court". This example comes from a space between Asia and Europe and above there is an annotation within a red border. "The people in this place have deep-set, round eyes and wrap their head in a cloth. They have loose clothes and long trousers. When women go out, they must cover their faces, with offenders being punished." In eastern Europe, there is another annotation in a red border which notes: "The people here all worship God (shang-di) and their religion is called 'Jing'."

Even those with only a little understanding of history will know that the term "shang-di", which is used by Chinese Christians as the name of God, appeared long ago in pre-Qin (pre 220 BCE) Chinese works. For example, it appears in the "Book of Odes" (Zhou-song: zhi-jing) At the end of the 16th century, after Matteo Ricci and other Western missionaries came to China, in order to propagate their religion to the Chinese, they had to find a Chinese term by which to translate the name for their highest power (in Latin: Deus). They investigated all sorts of possibilities, first using a phonetic representation -translating "Deus" as "Duo-si". However, it was difficult for Chinese people to accept this method of representation. After the missionaries became more familiar with Classical Chinese texts, they found some terms in the Confucian texts which were very suitable -"tian-zhu" (Lit: Lord of Heaven) and "shang-di" (Lit: The Emperor on High). In his "The Real Purport of the Lord of Heaven", Ricci clearly stated: "Our Lord of Heaven is the Shang-di of the ancient texts" and "Reading the ancient texts, one comes to understand that 'shang-di' and 'tian-zhu' are but different names for the one thing." Of course, what "shang-di" meant to Chinese people prior to the Qin dynasty (pre 200 BCE) and what it meant to the European Christians in using it to represent Deus, was completely different. That is to say, the use of the term "shang-di" to represent the Christian God began at the end of the 16th century and prior to this, the correlation between this term and this concept did not exist. The use of the term "shang-di" on the Eastern Europe portion of the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" shows that this annotation could not have derived from a map of the period of Zheng He. During the Tang dynasty, when the Nestorian sect of Christianity entered China (in the 7th century CE), the Chinese called the religion the "Jing religion" In the 9th century, when Emperor Wu-zong (814-846 CE) of the Tang dynasty persecuted Buddhists, Nestorianism was also harshly attacked and it gradually withered away.

During the Yuan dynasty (1206-1368 CE), Christianity in China was called the "Ye-li-ke-wen" (Mongol term: Erkeun or Arkaim) religion. It was only in about 1625, when the "Stele of the Spread of Da-qin (Eastern Roman Empire or Syria) Nestorianism in China" was discovered in Xi-an, that people first knew that Christianity had been in China during the Tang dynasty. After the discovery of this stele, it was given great attention by the Western missionaries in China as well as European scholars and a great amount of research was conducted upon it because it proved the long-term existence of Christianity in China. That is to say, the identification of Nestorianism as a form of Christianity was something which happened after 1625. At the time of Zheng He, Nestorianism had long ceased to exist, and certainly no-one knew that the Nestorianism of the Tang dynasty was a form of Christianity. This proves that the annotation "The people here all worship God (shang-di) and their religion is called 'Jing'" found on the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" could only have been created after 1625, and certainly could not have come from the age of Zheng He.

The note on the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" says that "Those annotations without red borders are not from the original map". However, through our analysis of the annotation "The people here all worship God (shang-di) and their religion is called 'Jing'", we have shown that the suggestion that this was from the original map cannot be accurate. Thus there are annotations in red borders on the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" which actually did not come from any "map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court" of the Zheng He period, but are instead from some time after the end of the 16th century. The statement "Those annotations without red borders are not from the original map" on the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" is not something which can be believed. If the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" was directly copied by Mo Yi-tong from an original "map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court", the annotation "Those annotations without red borders are not from the original map" shows that Mo Yi-tong was deceitful. If Mo Yi-tong was just copying a "map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court" drawn by someone else, then the annotation "Those annotations without red borders are not from the original map" would have been added by that person and Mo Yi-tong was deceived. To sum up, the annotation "The people here all worship God (shang-di) and their religion is called 'Jing'" is a cast-iron proof that the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" has nothing to do with Zheng He. The sub-text of the statement is that Christianity is a belief in various parts of the world and China should accept Christianity as its religion. Such an idea would certainly have come from the pen of a European missionary.

We can see in the few annotations on the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" which have been revealed the vestiges of European missionaries in China. On the west coast of America, there is an annotation which reads: "The local people of this place have black-red skin and on their head and at their waist they wear feathers. They are practiced in cannibalism." One just has to look at Aleni's "World Atlas" ( "Zhi-fang wai-ji" (of 1623 -gw) which notes of North America that "The men and women all wear feathers and capes of tiger and bear fur" of look at the "Map of the Complete Geography of all Under Heaven" where it is noted on the southern part of Africa that "The skin of the people here is the colour of black lacquer, their teeth are white, their lips red and their hair curly." Or one can look at Aleni's "World Atlas" where it is noted that "There are many countries here. The people are all of variants of black colour. As you move northwards, they become lighter, and as you move southwards they become darker, with some even the colour of lacquer. However, their teeth and eyes are extremely white. Here, as in Verbeist's (1623-1688) "Illustrated Explanation of Geography", one can see similar types of descriptions.

Our analysis of the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven" indicates that it is in the form of a European map, with annotations similar to those of the Western missionaries who came to China. There is no evidence of anything to do with Zheng He. We believe that, following the complete unveiling of the "Overall Map of the Geography of all under Heaven", this assessment will be completely verified.

Carbon 14 dating can only determine the age of the ink and paper. If this is indeed a map from the Qian-long period, it will be good news as many maps from that time have been destroyed by natural and man-made disasters. The non-historical nature of the annotations within red borders cannot but cause us to have grave doubts about this map. The map not only reflects the influence of Western culture on China after the great geographical discoveries, but also a proof that only a very few advanced Chinese people studied Western culture at that time. In the long stream of Chinese history, what is evident by its lack is this spirit of actively studying those cultures which are different from ours. If we use this valuable map to weave a modern fairy-tale about "Zheng He discovering the world" it will be a violation of the real significance of this map, contrary to the spirit of Zheng he's voyages to the Western Ocean and also contrary to the global trends of our times.


-----------------




INVITATION TO A PRESS CONFERENCE IN BEIJING ON 16 JANUARY


One of the earliest maps of the world - dating from 1418 - discovered in China

EMBARGOED UNTIL 16 JANUARY 2006

Zheng He's integrated map of the world 1418.
"The 1418 map" will be unveiled on 16th January


On Monday 16th January 2006 at 6.00pm to 7.15pm there will be an international press conference at The Bookworm Club, Yard 4, Sanlitun South Street, Gongti North Road, Chaoyang District Beijing where the 1418 map will be unveiled.

Liu Gang, the owner of the map will be speaking in English. Gavin Menzies, expert on Chinese history and bestselling author of the '1421
-
The Year China Discovered the World' will be available for interview by phone from London during the conference.

Details:

The map was purchased by Mr. Liu Gang, a distinguished Chinese lawyer and art collector in 2001. He acquired it from an old map/book dealer in Shanghai. After the purchase of the map, Mr. Liu Gang started to search for the source of the map, as well as the depictions and descriptions showed on the map. The research led Mr. Liu to build up his confidence on the authenticity of the map and question the common knowledge about Zheng He's seven voyages. In May 2005, Mr. Liu bought the book of "1421 - the Year China discovered The World" by Gavin Menzies. After reading the book, he became fully confident on the authenticity of the map and realised that he was not the only person to question the common understanding about the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus.

Mr. Liu is a founding partner of "Commerce and Finance Law Office", a very well known Chinese law firm (see 'legal 500') who handle many large IPOs in China. It follows that Mr. Liu is acutely aware of the responsibility in releasing this map to the world.


Significance

The 1418 map, published decades before Columbus, da Gama and Magellan set sail, shows the whole world with remarkable accuracy. Each continent of the world has correct shape, mass, latitude and longitude and position. All oceans of the world are displayed, many major rivers (the Potomac leading to Washington DC) and innumerable islands.

If the map is considered genuine, history will have to be rewritten. Columbus did not 'discover' America; da Gama was not the first to round the cape; Magellan was not the first to circumnavigate the world; Cook did not 'discover' Australia; New Zealand was not first settled by Maoris but by Chinese; the Portuguese were not the first foreigners to settle Brazil, Mozambique and Angola, nor the Spanish Chile, Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela. The Chinese had accurately surveyed and settled the world before European voyages of exploration started.

This 1418 map, shows every continent of the world. The speakers will present evidence for the audience to consider that Columbus, da Gama and Magellan used copies of this map to reach the New World.

The speakers will answer any questions about the map after the presentation.


Links with other Chinese maps published by 1418 map

At the launch in Beijing a schedule with photographs will be available of Chinese maps of the world published by Zheng He's era. There is nothing which appears on the 1418 map which does not appear on other Chinese charts of the same era - the 1418 map for the first time collates everything together.

Expert evidence

To date all experts who have given their opinion on the 1418 map consider it to be genuine. These opinions will be available for viewing.

Corroborative evidence

Gavin Menzies, author of '1421' considers that there is evidence that for every continent, ocean, island and river shown on the 1418 map, there is corroborative evidence that Zheng He's fleets visited there. This evidence can be seen on www.1421.tv". In addition hard copies of this evidence will be available in Beijing on 16th January.

Gavin Menzies is available for interview - for further details in the UK please contact Sophie Ransom or Steven Williams at Midas Public Relations on 020 7 584 7474 or email sophie@midaspr.co.uk or steven@midaspr.co.uk Beijing contact for 16 January Press Conference: Liu Gang map1418@hotmail.com or Frank Lee: leefrank1421@gmail.comBeijing venue contact: Alexandra Pearson, The Bookworm Club, Beijing Tel: 65869507 email: books@beijingbookworm.com



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UPDATE: Geoff Wade has a pointer to a large image of the map online.

UPDATE: A real world map from the period is discussed here.

UPDATE: Wade has also posted another letter from another Chinese expert. The map is a modern fraud.

UPDATE: Wade has also posted yet another letter from another Chinese expert. The map is a modern fraud.

Translation of Jin Guo-ping's comments on the "1418 map"

From: Geoff Wade <arigpw@nus.edu.sg>


A Map Full of Holes

By Jin Guo-ping (written 17 Jan 2006 in Lisbon)

(Draft translation by Geoff Wade 18 Jan 2006 in Singapore)

The original of the following comment is at:
<http://macaulogia.blogspot.com/2006/01/blog-post_17.html>

The "Overall Map of the Geography of all Under Heaven," which was first shown to the public on 16 January in Beijing, can be said to be full of doubtful elements, some very obvious and some less so.


1. Liu Gang bought the map for 4,000 yuan Renminbi from a Shanghai book dealer in 2001. Because he suspected at that time that the map might be a fake, he asked "five experienced collectors to verify the map and they affirmed that the map was at least 100 years old." Later, he asked a group of foreign "experts" (Professor Robert Cribbs, Dr. Gunnar Thompson, Charlotte Harris Rees, Lam Yee Din, Robin Lind, Gerald Andrew Bottomley and Anatole Andro) to examine this map (which in English was referred to as "The 1418 Map" to assesses its veracity. It was noted that "To date, all experts who have given their opinion on the 1418 map consider it to be genuine." I would like at ask how these "foreign experts" assessed a map from the 16th year of the Yong-le reign to be genuine. Even if the "Overall Map of the Geography of all Under Heaven" is shown to truly be from the 28th year of the Qian-long reign (1763), how is one to determine whether it was based on another map from the Yong-le reign? What can be the objective basis for the assessment? And isn't it the case that we don't even know anything about Mo Yi-tong, the purported author of this map?


2. Even the name "Overall Map of the Geography of all Under Heaven" is somewhat strange. If we examine various Chinese maps from 1724, 1755, 1767, 1810 and 1817 we observe that during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) the term "all under Heaven" referred to the Qing empire, not the world. None of the Chinese-language maps of the world which have been produced since the end of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) have used the term "all under Heaven." None of the world maps by Matteo Ricci, de Pantoja, Aleni, Verbiest or Benoist used the term "tian-xia" (all under Heaven) in its title. And if, prior to the arrival of the Jesuits in China in the 16th century, the Chinese already knew about the geography of the world, why was it that Matteo Ricci elicited such a huge reaction when he introduced western maps of the world to China, and people were clamouring to copy and translate these?


3. As to the "Map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court" Professor Mao Pei-qi has stated "This map is a fake." His basis for saying this is that the character 'zhi' in the title is erroneously written. Instead of using the 'zhi' with an ear radical, it used the 'zhi' with a speech radical. The complex forms of these characters are similar but the ancients would certainly not have confused them. A modern person who was trying to fake this, however, appears to have not had this knowledge and made the mistake of confusing them. In Shanghai dialect, the two characters are pronounced very similarly. Given that this map was bought in Shanghai, was it the case that a modern faker was confused by this dialectical similarity? An even greater error is that frequently on the map there appears a number followed by the character "yu" (meaning "plus" or "more than". In simplified characters there is only one way of writing this character, but in this case, the form which would have been used in pre-modern times was not the one which is used. We can thus affirm that there is no way such simplified characters would have appeared in either the "Overall Map of the Geography of all Under Heaven" or a "Map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court."

This is an iron-clad proof for passing judgement on the "Overall Map of the Geography of all Under Heaven." Just on the basis of these erroneous characters we can make a firm assessment as to whether or not the "Overall Map of the Geography of all Under Heaven" is a fake. The foreign experts cited are unfamiliar or only slightly familiar with Chinese characters and possibly missed these problems with the characters. This is understandable. The collector himself also is probably only familiar with simplified characters and his confusion is also explicable. However, those experts who assessed the "map as being at least 100 years old," and could not even pick out the simplified characters which had only been in use for 50 years, cannot be excused. They are simply swindlers!!!


4. On the top-left of the "Overall Map of the Geography of all Under Heaven" there is a panel which reads "Those annotations without red borders are not from the original map" Liu Gang explains it thus: This means that there were some annotations which were on the original "Map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court" and some were added later by the copier. The original annotations were enclosed with a red border. In other words, all those annotations within red borders were from the original map. Liu Gang, his connoisseur experts and even his foreign experts managed to miss the fact that in three places there are red borders around the "Great Qing Ocean�!!" The "Great Qing" did not replace the Ming until 256 years after this map was supposedly drawn. Are all these people colour-blind?

5. The notes "Now called North America," "Now called South America", "Now called Libya," "Now called Europe," "Mediterranean Sea" and so on were all Chinese translations of global geographical terms introduced by the Jesuits in the 16th century. This is common knowledge. On 21 December 2005, I had a telephone conversation with Liu Gang. During this, we touched on the question of the "Mediterranean Sea." He suggested that Chinese people had already been to the Mediterranean Sea by that time. I asked him how they had entered the Sea and he responded through the Red Sea. I again asked him if he knew when the Suez Canal was built. He was quiet. I told him that it was built in the 19th century. He then claimed that it was through another route but on being questioned as to its name could not answer.


6. Even if the Carbon 14 tests show that the paper and ink are from the age of Qian-long, it will not prove the veracity of the "Overall Map of the Geography of all Under Heaven." We cannot exclude the possibility that ink and paper from that time were used to produce a fake. The above analyses of the erroneous use of characters and the confused use of simplified and full-form characters and the anachronistic nature of the texts within the red borders all point to the very great likelihood that this is a fake.


7. Menzies and Liu Gang have ignored an essential issue. Every major overseas venture requires a motivation, usually an economic motivation. The European voyages were aimed at discovering new lands, but it seems that Zheng He's voyages to the Western Ocean did not have this mission or aim. So we can ask, what would Zheng he have been doing circumnavigating the globe?? If one can answer this question, then there will be no need for others.

8. Let us just ignore for the moment the question of whether the Chinese at that time had any idea of the world as a globe. Rather, let us just note that each time Zheng He went on a voyage, it lasted for two or three years. How could these ships have circumnavigated the globe or sailed to the North and South Poles? We just need to calculate the maximum speed of the ships, the seasonal winds and the necessary rest and repair periods, and we come to the obvious conclusion that this was not possible. There is another even simpler issue. How would it have been possible, under the technological conditions at that time, to draw maps of such accuracy as this after just one or two voyages? And the ships could only have surveyed the oceans. How is it that there is so much detail within the landmass of the continents on the "Overall Map of the Geography of all Under Heaven."


To sum up, we need to conduct cross-disciplinary comprehensive research on the "Overall Map of the Geography of all Under Heaven," not just come to an immediate conclusion.


Having written this, I cannot help but feel some sadness for the Chinese people. The sad thing is that such a great country has its own international experts, so why do we need to seek advice from foreigners? On top of this sadness, I feel indignation. This derives from the fact that Chinese have linked up with foreigners in an attempt to deceive us!


In the press release issued at Liu Gang's launch, it is noted that the map "answers all the questions." Could I thus ask him to try and answer those above!

Dr. Jin Guo-ping
<jinguopinglisbo@mail.telepac.pt>
Macau Foundation


The original of the preceeding comment is at:
<http://macaulogia.blogspot.com/2006/01/blog-post_17.html>
-------
Ed. note:
The site from which this item is taken is "Macaulogia: F�rum de Estudos
sobre Macau " moderated by Rogerio Puga <rogerio.puga@fcsh.unl.pt> who is identified in the program of the 1st International Symposium on Sinology--to be held in Lisbon and Oporto in February and March of this year, as " Researcher of the Anglo-Portuguese Study, and Overseas History Centres of FCSH of Universidade Nova Lisbon." FFC

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H-ASIA
January 23, 2006

PRC Geographer Zhou Zhen-he Debunks Menzies/Liu Map

From: Geoff Wade

The following comment on the Liu/Menzies map appeared in the _Xin-jing bao_ (The Beijing News) newspaper. It was authored by Professor Zhou Zhen-he, of the Chinese Geography Research Institute of Fu-dan University, Shang-hai. Professor Zhou is a highly respected geographer and this rebuttal has proven quite influential in China.

GW

(Draft translation by Geoff Wade 23 January 2006)

-------------------

(Text)

"Historical research is unrelated to personal emotions

-- On the fake map published by _The Economist_ in Britain



"Prior to the retired British commander Menzies' claims, no-one ever suggested that Zheng He's fleets ever reached the American mainland, even though the Zheng He voyages were recognised as one of the greatest events in world navigational history. Two years ago, when Menzies' _1421: the Year China Discovered the World_ was published, it created quite a controversy


"Only works which makes surprising claims attract great attention, and it appears that Mr Menzies is very cognizant of this fact. However, the fragmentary and incoherent evidence which he has put forward to support his claims, especially this unreliable map, have been successively rebutted by scholars both in China and abroad.


"And yet Menzies' theory still has quite some adherents because it accords with the ideas of some anti-Western elements or is considered to be a requirement for promoting patriotism. However, the majority of people, even if they do not absoluteley reject the theory, at least have a suspicious attitude toward it. It was thus that last year, during the 600th anniversary celebrations of Zheng He's first voyage, the theory of Zheng He's discovery of America had cooled off. Then, in the new year, _The Economist_ published an ancient Chinese map which it was claimed could prove that Zheng He definitely discovered America. This map was purchased by a Chinese collector in 2001 from the collector's market in Dong-tai Road, Shang-hai. Menzies assisted in sending the map for dating. He also contacted many of the major media outlets around the world who reported on this and collectors have also reportedly expressed their great confidence in the likely revolutionary results" which the dating will produce.

"Actually, the dating will certainly not produce any 'revolutionary results.' we know this already. This is because the methods used in producing this fake map are so poor and low-quality, with even descriptions in recent newspapers being sufficient to show that it is a fake 'ancient map.' The map is named the 'Overall Map of the Geography of All Under Heaven' which makes no sense as a map name. The fakers did not even have a basic knowledge of Chinese grammar. What is this when they mention 'quan yu' (complete geography) and 'zong tu' (overall map) in the one title? If it is 'complete', it no longer needs to be described as 'overall'. Even anyone today with some basic knowledge would not have made such a stupid error, much less a map-maker in 1763. Further, a single map which depicted the entire world or the whole country would generally only be called a 'quan tu' (complete map) and not a 'zong-tu' (overall map). The term 'zong-tu' (overall map) is generally used for the first map in a map collection, and the remainder are the individual maps.

If there are no individual maps, how can one have an 'overall map?' Even more incomprehensible are the two characters 'quan-yu' (overall geography). The term has never been used in Chinese. The classical terms for geography were 'yu-di' or 'kun-yu'. When the Jesuit Matteo Ricci drew his world maps during the late Ming dynasty, he called them 'Shan-hai yu-di quan-tu' (Complete map of the geography of mountains and seas) or 'Wan-guo kun-yu quan-tu' (Complete map of the geography of the myriad lands). The world maps drawn by the Jesuits Verbeist and Benoist during the Qing dynasty used the titles 'kun-yu quan-tu' (Complete maps of geography). No-one has ever used the incomprehensible title 'quan yu zong-tu' (Overall map of complete geography).

Taking a step back, even if this map was really drawn during the Qian-long reign (1736-96), can we, on the basis of the sentence 'Copied from a map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court, of the 16th year of the Yong-le reign (1418) of the Ming dynasty' which appears on this map, believe that the basis for this map was an original 'map of the barbarians from all under Heaven who offer tribute to the Court' of the Ming dynasty? A faker, in order to seek the best price for the map, will of course try to push the genealogy of the map as far back as possible.

Unfortunately, the creator of this map had neither the daring nor the ability to fake a Ming map. Therefore, he could only use such a sentence in an attempt to deceive people. Is not the aim very simple to see? The map published in newspapers was very blurred and it was difficult to distinguish the characters. However, if the characters really are 'shi-gong-tu' rather than 'zhi-gong-tu', that it is a fatal flaw, because that means the person who wrote this had no idea what a 'zhi-gong-tu' (usually an illustrated guide to tributaries -gw) was, and mistakenly wrote 'shi' instead of 'zhi'. If the creator of the map was able to make even such evident mistakes, what value does this map have? However, the most serious defect is that this map is but a poor copy of a European-style map from between 1630 and the middle of the 18th century. How can it be said to be copied from a Ming map? Such maps are not difficult to find, and some people have used them for calendars, postcards, illustrations and so on. In recent days, Professor Gong Ying-yan has done a very detailed comparison of this map with the world maps drawn by the Europeans and has concluded that this map is a fake. It is thus unnecessary to repeat the fact now.


"Examining this map, one can see the fake elements without even looking closely. What is the point in sending it for testing? If anyone disbelieves, they can go and have a look at the television serial 'In the Days of May'. The techniques of fakery in that are much higher than those in this map.

"The study of Zheng He is primarily historical study, and not aimed at any particularly need. We need to proceed from the facts as only thus will the research have any real significance. Of course, if we can come to theconclusion that Zheng He reached America before Columbus, that would be useful material for developing patriotism. However, even if we do have the historical sources to conclude this, Zheng He's voyages can still be seen as of global importance and still be seen as the most advanced maritime activity in the world at that time. What we should be studying rather is why China's major naval power in the early 15th century was not developed to the extent where China became a strong maritime power, and instead this was to be the final brilliant beacon in China's long leadership of world trends. Such research is important as it can play an important role in further promoting the development of our country and our nation. So, what significance does the current "discovery" have? Actually it does not even constitute a discovery, but rather is a backward step. Did not people some time back believe that Chinese people discovered America during the Northern and Southern dynasties (386-589 C.E.)? Was that not even more glorious than Zheng He?

"Zheng he's fleets probably had the capacity to reach the Americas. However, having the capacity is different from actually reaching there. This is a very simple truth. China has been throughout its history a continental country and the main ideology has been a land-based one. There has basically been no ideological push for the development and utilization of the resources of the seas. Thus, there could be no desire to make great discoveries on the seas of the world. We can speculate on the various possible aims of the Zheng He voyages, but we can certainly exclude the possibility that he was going off to explore the world. There is another matter that needs to be clarified. The Chinese were not the first to do everything in the world. Global civilization was created jointly by the peoples of all countries of the world. At the same time as developing patriotism, we need to respect historical facts. Otherwise, the historical research results we use in our patriotic education will not stand up to scrutiny, and the effects will be opposite to those we aimed for. It is best to wait until the facts are clear, and then on that basis carry
them forward. In this way, the results will be better."

Geoff Wade
National University of Singapore

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5 comments:

Jason said...

Any idea where one can find a high-res picture of the "map?"

Kerim Friedman said...

There are lots of free tools which can reformat text, removing extra linebreaks...

Anonymous said...

1421 makes the 'Bermuda Triangle missing = UFO abduction' believers seem reasonable by comparison.

I'm not sure whether he's a looney or a fraud, I tend toward the latter, someone willing to take advantage of the all to often gullible Chinese and their inferiority complex driven ultra nationalism.

Given that he was a former UK naval officer commanding a submarine, I would hope I'm correct about his motivation, otherwise the consequences are too horrifying.

Maoman said...

Yes, please reformat...

Daniel said...

Very interesting stuff. Must have been a strange experience for the Chinese scholars to debunk these claims - although, presumably it was easier given it was a foreigner who was making them.