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Coin points to Early Chinese Trade With Africa

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    Posted: 30 Nov 2010 at 12:51
Interesting find of coins can give information about Chinese African links in the 15th century:
 
Quote According to historical records, during Zheng Hes voyage to the Western seas, he carried large amounts of Yongle Tongbao coins with him. The discovery has a significant meaning and is convincing evidence of Chinas trade with Africa hundreds of years ago.

The discovery is part of the China-Kenyan Lamu Islands Archaeological Project, that commenced in July, jointly conducted by the National Museum of China, the School of Archaeology and Museology of Beijing University, and the Kenya National Museum.

Beijing University archaeological professor Qin Dashu is in charge of the project. According to the newspaper article, Qin said that he has studied the place where the porcelain used in the imperial palace was made and the characteristics of the porcelain found in the early Ming Dynasty. Now they have found this kind of porcelain in Kenya, he believes that it may be related to Zheng. Because he was an official delegate, Zheng may have brought some imperial porcelain there as rewards or presents.
 
 

 


Edited by Carcharodon - 30 Nov 2010 at 13:56
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Nov 2010 at 15:21
Oh no.  Not another one of these threads. 

When the USSR was trying to puff itself up and exert "new power" after WW II, they claimed to have invented everything first.  Public acclaim was their goal to prove their assent and superior system.

China has visions of a return to its world view of China as the center and fount of all.  Heaven's Mandate, etc.  An archeological "find" that establishes China as an advanced state organism before the West is valuable propaganda. 

So what if this guy got to Africa?  They never did anything with that afterward.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Nov 2010 at 15:49
Well you have to separate the two issues. It may well have a political motivation but it is also a another dimension of Chinese history which is no less deserving of attention than any other.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Nov 2010 at 20:03
The arrival of Zheng He's fleet to the eastern coast of Africa is a well-known, well-documented fact. This finding is no news.
A few years ago there was a issue of National Geographic exclusively about this voyage.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Dec 2010 at 10:51
Originally posted by calvo calvo wrote:

The arrival of Zheng He's fleet to the eastern coast of Africa is a well-known, well-documented fact. This finding is no news.
A few years ago there was a issue of National Geographic exclusively about this voyage.
 
Yes, the voyage is well known, the interesting thing in this case is what physical traces it left behind. Perhaps archaeology can flesh out some details about exchange and influence.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Dec 2010 at 13:27
Ah another thread providing an opportunity for balderdash--not to mention superficial ranting totally unrelated to any possible serious analysis or study. Both Calvo and Pike are entirely correct with their surmise. Besides, as far as Chinese "voyages" are concerned has everyone forgotten that such is a "been there, done that" moment!?! Then there is the intimacy and coincidence of Gavin Menzies and his folderol on the subject.
 
And as far as Zheng's voyage is concerned there was no subsequent "exchange and influence" no matter how much you want to dig up the Horn of Africa!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Dec 2010 at 13:38
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Ah another thread providing an opportunity for balderdash--not to mention superficial ranting totally unrelated to any possible serious analysis or study. Both Calvo and Pike are entirely correct with their surmise. Besides, as far as Chinese "voyages" are concerned has everyone forgotten that such is a "been there, done that" moment!?! Then there is the intimacy and coincidence of Gavin Menzies and his folderol on the subject.
 
And as far as Zheng's voyage is concerned there was no subsequent "exchange and influence" no matter how much you want to dig up the Horn of Africa!
 
As many times archaeology might (or might not) come up with some surprises about these matters. Exchange or influence can occur in smaller or larger scale, and some small scale, and perhaps short lived influence are not impossible to imagine.
 
About Gavin Menzie, I think hardly any schoolar are taking him seriously in any way.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 2010 at 01:35
Contact between Indonesians and Africans are well known. That's the origin of Madagascar, for instance. If anything, Chinese were late commers to Africa with relation to other Asian peoples that have been trading with Africanss since 2 thousand years ago, at least.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 2010 at 11:35
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Contact between Indonesians and Africans are well known. That's the origin of Madagascar, for instance. If anything, Chinese were late commers to Africa with relation to other Asian peoples that have been trading with Africanss since 2 thousand years ago, at least.
 
When it comes to the Chinese, Zheng He was not the first to reach East Africa.
 
And also Romans, and Greeks before them, had contact with the eastern coast of Africa.
 
 
 
Places and names from Periplus of the Erythraean Sea


Edited by Carcharodon - 02 Dec 2010 at 11:36
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 2010 at 15:22
Carch, if you do not realize that the definition of "trade" from the perspective of history and economics requires perdurance, it is not our fault. There was no Chinese "trade" with Africa as properly understood, period.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 2010 at 16:08
That do not exclude some exchange (for example of diplomatic, and other, gifts) and contacts though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 2010 at 19:01
Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:

That do not exclude some exchange (for example of diplomatic, and other, gifts) and contacts though.
 
Please respect the meaning of terms and their proper understanding with respect to historical study. Speaking of Chinese "diplomacy" in the 15th century with a continent is utter nonsense. No one refers to the 12th and 13th century Prester John "letters" that circulated Europe as evidence of diplomacy much less trade even though in the 15th century the Portuguese did mount expeditions to Abyssinia subsequent to the 1340 version of the "letter". One might as well call the Columbus expedition an example of Castillian diplomacy [after all old Chris did carry a letter to the Great Khan] under the loosey-goosey verbal ruminaions you proffer. The simple fact here is a blunt one: there was no "trade" on the part of the Chinese state with any political entity in Africa during the 15th century, since under your logic the discovery of Ming porcelain in 16th century Mexico would stand as "evidence" of Chinese trade with the Americas with nary a Chinese mechant in sight! Whatever one might wish to make of the singular expeditions of Zheng He between 1405 and 1433--and here is an example of such:
 
 
--the actual consequence pertinent to formal trade as well as diplomacy (in terms of full exchange) never materialized. There are far greater reasons intensely tied to contemporary international politics that better explain the hyperboles put forth.
 
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Eh?

Zanj and China conducted a lot of trade. Only during Zheng He's period was that trade direct, but the indian ocean trading network extending from Mozambique to Guangzhou is well known and established.
Why do you think Zheng He or the Portugese went there in the first place?
 
There are 1001 ways for chinese coins to show up anywhere in the indian ocean. Guangzhou - Malacca, Malacca - Calicut, Calicut - Mombassa. Easy.


Edited by Omar al Hashim - 02 Dec 2010 at 22:03
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 2010 at 22:19
Coins don't indicate direct trade between China and that part of the world. Byzantine nomisma turn up everywhere also, because Byzantine coinage was powerful and of universally accepted quality (at least until the final four centuries). Therefore coinage from that country was recognised as a reliable medium of exchange.

It would not surprise me if China's coinage was held in similar high regard to Byzantium's.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 2010 at 23:48
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

Coins don't indicate direct trade between China and that part of the world. Byzantine nomisma turn up everywhere also, because Byzantine coinage was powerful and of universally accepted quality (at least until the final four centuries). Therefore coinage from that country was recognised as a reliable medium of exchange.

It would not surprise me if China's coinage was held in similar high regard to Byzantium's.


True enough.  Specie was specie regardless of what images or characters might be on it.  All the participants cared about was that the coinage had some value that someone ELSE might recognize.

Coinage from places other than Roman/Byzantine territories would have value no matter where they found their way.  Coins in one place only mean that someone did business there in some way.



   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 2010 at 23:59
Here we go again...Omar wrote:
 
There are 1001 ways for chinese coins to show up anywhere in the indian ocean. Guangzhou - Malacca, Malacca - Calicut, Calicut - Mombassa. Easy.
 
Such would be grand except for one disturbing detail the Ming government issued no cast coinage after 1393 and copper cash coinage was prohibited circulation! Perhaps one should familiarize themselves with the term Tai Ming Pao Chao. The coinage of T'ai Tsu (d.1399), with the exception of the T'ung Pao issued by Yung Lo sporadically in 1408, was the last of the copper coinage that might have had any relationship to the Indian Ocean voyages since the Hsuan Te T'ung Pao of 1433-1435 are rather late. But in any event this coinage was in limited numbers and hardly "standards" for commercial interaction. What everyone seems to have forgotten is that both copper and later silver were in high demand internally in China and would hardly be considered as suitable "exports" to the "foreign devils".   


 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Dec 2010 at 09:57
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

 

Please respect the meaning of terms and their proper understanding with respect to historical study. Speaking of Chinese "diplomacy" in the 15th century with a continent is utter nonsense.

 

Indeed there were Chinese contacts with East Africa, and one could call them diplomatic, since diplomacy, and also display of the wealth of China, were among the purposes of the Zheng Hes missions. Three of these missions seem to have reached East African ports. The diplomacy was not with the whole continent but with particular political entities. Even if one can discuss the nature of trade between China and Eastern Africa, there was still exchange of gifts and objects of status.

 

One can also add that Zheng Hes fleet was most probably not the first Chinese ships that reached Eastern Africa.



Edited by Carcharodon - 03 Dec 2010 at 10:03
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Dec 2010 at 20:52
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:


When the USSR was trying to puff itself up and exert "new power" after WW II, they claimed to have invented everything first. 
 
What??? Confused
 
 
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Sources?
 
A request not from the latest diversions on how Russians invented the light bulb but with regard to Carch's assertions over those multitudinous Chinese "voyages".


Edited by drgonzaga - 04 Dec 2010 at 20:47
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote whalebreath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Dec 2010 at 05:36
Originally posted by Sarmat Sarmat wrote:

Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:


When the USSR was trying to puff itself up and exert "new power" after WW II, they claimed to have invented everything first. 
 
What??? Confused
 
 

Quite true-famous old commie propaganda-good for a laugh-back in the day that line of Bee Ess went on for decades.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Dec 2010 at 21:38
Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:

... 

One can also add that Zheng Hes fleet was most probably not the first Chinese ships that reached Eastern Africa.

 
Let's start from the basic. Zheng He reached Africa simply because he was a muslim and followed the Muslim routes that when from Africa to Arabia, India and China.
 
However, even before Muslims established permanent trade from Africa to East Asia, an Austronesian people from Indonesia was doing the route from Madagascar to India and Indonesia as a routine.
 
So, Zheng He voyage was a minor achievement in a route that was known by many people since ancient times.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote whalebreath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Dec 2010 at 23:13
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

However, even before Muslims established permanent trade from Africa to East Asia, an Austronesian people from Indonesia was doing the route from Madagascar to India and Indonesia as a routine.

Yes let us not forget The Borobdur Expedition replicated those ancient voyages quite recently
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Dec 2010 at 01:21
Indeed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Dec 2010 at 03:56
Roman coins were discovered at Oc Eo in the Mekong Delta (believed from the Funan period), I believe in the late 30s. No one pretended that the Romans had ever set foot on the the site, but they did take it as suggestive that some Southeast Asian products were making there way as far west as Rome. Likewise, there are numerous historical examples of currency from one nation becoming a medium of trade, i.e. as currency, in various trading entrepots. The Nguyen lords of Dang Trong (Southern, i.e., modern Central Vietnam) imported old Japanese and Chinese currency for use as a medium of exchange. Later, they cast their own zinc currency, which by the 1740s had become so debased as to be worthless. IIRC, Mexican silver dollars were a medium of exchange in China during the early years of the Republic, and the Island of Puerto Rico used Ecuadorean silver dollars as a medium of exchange prior to the Spanish-American War.

Chinese coins in East Africa should not surprise, but they are only evidence that the region did see trade of some sorts, and that metal coins were a currency in that trade.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Dec 2010 at 10:49
Well, once I saw in a book about India an illustration of a Roman ship that reached India. Roman ships reached as a routine that country from the Middle East. So, it is no wonder Roman coins may have reached Vietnam.

I have also seen Muslim middle ages coins and crafts in an exhibit about the Vikings.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Dec 2010 at 16:53
Marco Polo did not have to reach China before the benefits of "silk" visited Europe! Or has everyone forgotten that trade routes are a mark of civilization's --any civilization--advent.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2010 at 12:24
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Let's start from the basic. Zheng He reached Africa simply because he was a muslim and followed the Muslim routes that when from Africa to Arabia, India and China.
 
He did not travel to Africa only because he was a muslim but because he was executing orders from the emperor. Zheng He had no maritime experience prior to his voyages. But in China, and all over the Indian Ocean there was established trade routes that he could take advantage of and follow.
Also Chinese ships had travelled in the Indian Ocean, and even reached Africa, long time before Zheng He. 
 
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

So, Zheng He voyage was a minor achievement in a route that was known by many people since ancient times. .
 
One difference though, compared with other voyages on the Indian Ocean, was the scale of the fleet he commanded. And also the scale of the ships themselves.
 
Also he visited over thirty states and executed diplomatic tasks and exchange with them. He also brought envoys from these states to China and back again.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2010 at 12:31
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

Roman coins were discovered at Oc Eo in the Mekong Delta (believed from the Funan period), I believe in the late 30s. No one pretended that the Romans had ever set foot on the the site, but they did take it as suggestive that some Southeast Asian products were making there way as far west as Rome. Likewise, there are numerous historical examples of currency from one nation becoming a medium of trade, i.e. as currency, in various trading entrepots. The Nguyen lords of Dang Trong (Southern, i.e., modern Central Vietnam) imported old Japanese and Chinese currency for use as a medium of exchange. Later, they cast their own zinc currency, which by the 1740s had become so debased as to be worthless. IIRC, Mexican silver dollars were a medium of exchange in China during the early years of the Republic, and the Island of Puerto Rico used Ecuadorean silver dollars as a medium of exchange prior to the Spanish-American War.

Chinese coins in East Africa should not surprise, but they are only evidence that the region did see trade of some sorts, and that metal coins were a currency in that trade.
 
Yes, it is ofcourse difficult to prove that the coins, and ceramics, found in Mambrui actually come from Zheng Hes fleet. But at least the coin is right in time. And the type of coin is known to have been carried by envoys of the emperor.
It shall be exciting to see what further investigations will show. It seems that the Chinese has invested around 3 million dollars in this project.
 
 


Edited by Carcharodon - 07 Dec 2010 at 12:32
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2010 at 14:09
Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:

 
He did not travel to Africa only because he was a muslim but because he was executing orders from the emperor. Zheng He had no maritime experience prior to his voyages. But in China, and all over the Indian Ocean there was established trade routes that he could take advantage of and follow.
Also Chinese ships had travelled in the Indian Ocean, and even reached Africa, long time before Zheng He.


Confused

Zheng He was a muslim, and muslims controlled the Arabia-China route those times, not the Chinese.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2010 at 14:16
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:


Zheng He was a muslim, and muslims controlled the Arabia-China route those times, not the Chinese.
 
Yes, but the expeditions were sent out by Chinas emperor in order to get as many states as possible to recognize the sovereignity of Chinas Emperor, muslims or not, and to bring in tribute from these states, often in exchange for valuable gifts.



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