Zheng-He (Cheng Ho), 1371-1433, was an admiral, diplomat and
explorer during China’a Ming dynasty. He was
born in 1371 to a poor ethnic Hui (Chinese Muslims) family in Yunnan
Province, Southwest China. Emperor Yong Le selected him to lead the first of
seven epic expeditions (1405-1433) to South East Asia.
In 1405 Zheng-He started the world’s first biggest naval expedition. His fleet consisted of over 300
ships with over 60 treasure ships measuring 150 meters in length and 83 meters
in width and equipped with more than 28,000 crew. Zheng-He made one last
voyage (1431-1433) during the reign of Emperor Zhu Zhanji when his
fleets visited more than 37 countries in the South China Sea, Indian
Ocean, Arabian Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Africa.
Zheng-He made a total of seven voyages
within a period of 23 years.
According to the Malay Annals, Zheng-He escorted a contingent of 500 court
maidens together with a princess called Hang Li Po to marry the Sultan Mansur
Syah of Malacca. These 500 maidens eventually settled in Bukit Cina in Melacca. The descendants of these
mixed marriages with local
natives in Malaysia are know today as “Baba and Nyoya”