Zheng He Treasure Ship - earliest primary sources don't say size

heylouis

Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
6,397
China
#81
Gaspar talked about a great Chinese Armada.to India being lost, but we don't have any Chinese record of any of Zheng He fleets being lost, and if Gasparnwas in error here, he could have been in error in other places. He also blamed the loss of this armada on the Chinese being new to the art of navigation, suggesting that the Chinese had not been sailing to India before Zheng He time. I know that when the Chinese monk Faxian returned to China in the 5th century CE, it was on a non Chinese ship. And in another thread talking about the history of the Philippines,a source said it was the Philippines that first sailed to China during the 11th century, not the Song to the Philippines. If Niccolo Conti's 2000 butts ships were India, it might suggest that the large 5,000 liao ships didn't arise until the Ming dynasty.
anyway, i don't see any logics here. so Gaspar is correct or not? or partial correct? then what is the relationship between the partially correct part with zhenghe's voyager?
what is the relationship with 5000 liao ships?

established china-to-india route was recorded in book of han already. it is from vietnam to sri lanka.
 
Feb 2011
6,346
#82
If the Chinese ships are using oars, then these ships. are probably smaller than being claimed, since rowing a 1000 ton ship is not very practical unless you had very large crews which would not be very economical for commerce. Rowing the ships implied they were less than a 1000 tons or 5000 liao.
Gaspar wasn't describing Zheng he's ships but ships of his own time.

Gaspar talked about a great Chinese Armada.to India being lost, but we don't have any Chinese record of any of Zheng He fleets being lost, and if Gasparnwas in error here, he could have been in error in other places. He also blamed the loss of this armada on the Chinese being new to the art of navigation, suggesting that the Chinese had not been sailing to India before Zheng He time. I know that when the Chinese monk Faxian returned to China in the 5th century CE, it was on a non Chinese ship. And in another thread talking about the history of the Philippines,a source said it was the Philippines that first sailed to China during the 11th century, not the Song to the Philippines.
What's in error or not should be determined by whether his source aligns itself with what was said in Chinese sources. Gaspar said that the Chinese conquered India in Herodotus' time too, are we supposed to take that seriously? Likewise mention of an entire fleet being lost does not align itself with any source either. I thought the whole point of bringing non-Chinese sources was to look at the parts where all sources agree on, as these parts are most likely to be true. On the other hand, the mention of Chinese presence in India and Southeast Asia means these parts do align with Chinese sources regarding Zheng He. It's not just Gaspar who mentioned Chinese presence far from China, although Gaspar was certainly mistaken to the amount of presence involved. Mention of yulohs do align with Chinese sources as well.

Bart Dale said:
If Niccolo Conti's 2000 butts ships were India, it might suggest that the large 5,000 liao ships didn't arise until the Ming dynasty
That sentence doesn't logically tie together at all. Anyway Marco Polo already mentioned that the Chinese had ships of 200-300 crew size with burthen "much larger than ours", which lends credence to the 5000 Liao ships from as far back as the Song dynasty.

If Niccolo.was mentioning 1000 ton Indian ships: Zheng He's ships wouldn't be too special in Indian waters so there's not much reason for Europeans to speak of it's tonnage.
If Niccolo was mentioning 1000 ton Chinese ships (because he described the ships having watertight compartments): it corroborates the 1250 ton flagships of Zheng He's fleet.
 
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Feb 2011
6,346
#83
Sally K Church:
A ship of about 200-250 ft would make much more sense than the 450 ft one. Such a ship would be large enough to transport the required number of people and amount of supplies and treasures. Although this was the maximum size of wooden ships in the West, this is not the reason why we should accept it as an optimum size. Gong Zhen’s evidence is perhaps the soundest – his statement that there were 200-300 men on the ships. This number of men could not have man- aged a ship of 20,000 tons, but would have been quite adept at handling ships of a smaller size, such as the Razee Corvette, a Ship-of-the-Line manned by 205- 220 men, or the Fifth Rate (46-gun) ship with a complement of 280-300 men.The Razee Corvette was 145 ft long, and 38.5 ft in the beam with a burden of 944 tons and a displacement of 1,280 tons. The Fifth Rate was over 150 ft long and 40 ft in the beam with a capacity of 1,063 tons burden and a displacement of 2,154 tons.132 Ships that are too large also have certain disadvantages, foremost among which is a loss of maneuverability. This lesson was learned by the Spanish Armada

She didn't have the evidence from hong bao's tomb which was excavated after her article. The tomb gives the first primary source evidence which says that Zheng He had 5000 liao ships, which is equivalent to 1250 tons burthen and 2000 tons displacement. This coroborrates with Sally K.'s estimation using Gong Zheng's quote that the ships were crewed by 200-300 men, from which she concludes that a ship of 300 crewmen would be the size of a fifth rate ship (1063 tons burthen, 2154 tons displacement, 150 feet in length). Still very large for the time period.

Her re-estimation of the rudder excavated in the treasure-ship shipyard also showed that it belonged to a 150 feet ship, which would again be approximately the length of the fifth rate ship of 150 ft, 1063 tons burden, and 2154 tons displacement she mentioned:

If, on the other hand, one uses the Quanzhou ship’s dimensions to determine the proportion of rudder post length to length of ship, and applies that proportion to the rudder post found at the Longjiang shipyard, one finds that it fits a ship that is about 150 ft long. This result adds to the evidence we already have for ships of between 100 and 200 ft long on Zheng He’s expeditions.
 
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Mar 2012
4,323
#84
That sentence doesn't logically tie together at all. Anyway Marco Polo already mentioned that the Chinese had ships of 200-300 crew size with burthen "much larger than ours", which lends credence to the 5000 Liao ships from as far back as the Song dynasty.

If Niccolo.was mentioning 1000 ton Indian ships: Zheng He's ships wouldn't be too special in Indian waters so there's not much reason for Europeans to speak of it's tonnage.
If Niccolo was mentioning 1000 ton Chinese ships (because he described the ships having watertight compartments): it corroborates the 1250 ton flagships of Zheng He's fleet.
That seem to only be the 2,000 liao ships in Song records, as the ones with 5,000 liao could fit 500-600; "the big ones are 5,000 liao, and could fit 500-600 people, medium sized ones are 2,000 to 1,000 liao, it can carry 200-300 people."

The formula of the Yongle period Minister of Work Song Li's for the ratio between the displacement of a normal ship (non-military) and the number of people it can carry seem to fit this better.
Song Li:
"A single sea-going vessel (haichuan) needs a crew of 100 men to transport 1,000
piculs. However, when one considers the cost, one can use 20 river boats, each
carrying 200 piculs and requiring a crew of 10 men to transport 4,000 piculs.47
計海船一艘,用百人而運千石,其費可辦河船容二百石者二十,船用十人,可
運四千石.
"

"The standard num-ber of men on an ocean-going grain transport seems to have been 100, and the ratio of crew to capacity on these ships was one man per 10 liao, or 2.5 tons. Song Li’s statement makes clear that this ratio was different for river and canal boats, which could get by with one man for every 20 liao, or five tons. The larger crew for ocean-going ships was probably necessary because of their greater size, larger equipment (such as anchors and rudder), and more complicated rigging."
 
Feb 2011
6,346
#85
I think we should differentiate the 'crew size' with the 'number of passengers + crew size'.

Also tons burthen is the amount a ship could carry. Displacement is the carrying capacity + weight of the ship (I mean for the displacement that Sally Church used, and I think this is the most common one, albeit there are other definitions of displacement).
 
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Likes: Ichon
Mar 2012
4,323
#86
Gaspar talked about a great Chinese Armada.to India being lost, but we don't have any Chinese record of any of Zheng He fleets being lost, and if Gasparnwas in error here, he could have been in error in other places. He also blamed the loss of this armada on the Chinese being new to the art of navigation, suggesting that the Chinese had not been sailing to India before Zheng He time. I know that when the Chinese monk Faxian returned to China in the 5th century CE, it was on a non Chinese ship. And in another thread talking about the history of the Philippines,a source said it was the Philippines that first sailed to China during the 11th century, not the Song to the Philippines. If Niccolo Conti's 2000 butts ships were India, it might suggest that the large 5,000 liao ships didn't arise until the Ming dynasty.
You really need to read up the basic history of Chinese sea trade in the South China Sea. While the Tang still often depended on foreign ships for long distant sea trade, the Song was already making its ships and sailed frequently to as far as Somalia, eventually dominating the sea trade route. The Zhu Fangzhi of the Song period specifically mentioned how to sail from Quanzhou to Egypt.


Ibn Battuta of the 14th century already noted that the sea trade between India and China was in the hands of Chinese merchants.

Also, the biggest ships during the Song might have been bigger than those of the early Ming. According to the Xuanhe Fengshi Gaoli Tujing 宣和奉使高丽图经, the Song built a ship called Shengzhou (divine ship) that had 3 times as many people as a Kezhou (guest ship). “神舟之长阔高大、什物器用、人数,皆三倍于客舟也”
A Kezhou was already said to be "have a length over 10 zhang, 3 zhang deep, 2 zhang and 2 chi wide, capable of carrying 2,000 liao of millet" “其长十余丈,深三丈,阔二丈五尺,可载二千斛粟.”
We are talking about a ship of 6,000 liao here.

Zheng He's voyages are not even the first government sponsored voyage from China to Indian states. Chinese navigators have been visiting the Indian subcontinent frequently during the Yuan. The Ming voyages were only an expansion of that. From 1272-1287, the Yuan court already sent four separate envoys by sea to Sri Lanka, Baboluo (Eastern India), and Mabaer (Coromandel). Yihei Mishi, who led the Yuan invasion of Java, also sailed to the above mentioned places and was said to have "received their memorials of submission."
 
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