c.1371 - c.1433
Chinese admiral and commander of several famous naval expedition.
In 1405 his fleet of 300 ships and 27,000 men visited Vietnam, Siam,
Java, Ceylon, and the West coast of India. Returning in 1407, Cheng made
six more such voyages in the following 24 years, sailing all the way to Arabia and Egypt.
From his voyages Cheng brought home the envoys of over 30 states to pay homage
to the Chinese Emperor.
But there followed no world conquest because the Ming emperor was convinced that China was
the centre of the world and therefore had nothing to gain from contact with the barbarians.
Cheng-ho was forbidden to go to sea again, his records were burnt, and the memory of his phantastic sea voyages faded.
The 'Pen T'sao Kang Mu' is a 50-volume compendium of remedies, listing 12,000 drugs, balms, salves, infusions and other therapeutic compounds still in use. The work is a great pharmacopoeia, but it was also a treatise on botany, zoology, minerology and metallurgy.
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