Timeline of the Ming treasure voyages

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Voyages of Zheng He (1405 - 1433). Voyages of Zheng He.png
Voyages of Zheng He (1405 - 1433).

This is a timeline of the Ming dynasty treasure voyages from 1405 to 1433.



1371 Ma He, son of Hajji, son of Hajji, son of Bayan, son of Ajall Shams al-Din Omar, is born in Kunyang Subdistrict, Yunnan, near Kunming [1]


1381 Ming conquest of Yunnan : Ming dynasty invades Yunnan and Ma He is captured; his father Hajji is killed at the age of 39 [2]
1385 Ma He is castrated and enters the service of Zhu Di [3]


1399December Jingnan Campaign : Ma He successfully defends Beiping's reservoirs [4]


140217 JulyZhu Di becomes the Yongle Emperor and promotes Ma He to the Grand Director (Taijian) of the Directorate of Palace Servants [4]
14034 SeptemberOrders are issued for the construction of 200 "seagoing transport ships" [5]
140411 February Yongle Emperor confers the surname Zheng on Ma He [6]
1 MarchOrders are issued for the construction of 50 "seagoing ships" [7]
140511 July Zheng He and 27,800 men depart from Nanjing on 255 ships, of which 62 are treasure ships, "bearing imperial letters to the countries of the Western Ocean and with gifts to their kings of gold brocade, patterned silks, and colored silk gauze, according to their status." The fleet proceeds to Liujiagang where it is separated into squadrons and the crews pray to Mazu, goddess of sailors. [8]
August Treasure fleet reaches the mouth of the Min River and assembles at Taiping Anchorage in Changle District [9]
December Treasure fleet departs for Champa and after 15 days arrives at Qui Nhơn, where "most of the men take up fishing for a livelihood" [10]
1406 Treasure fleet visits Malacca and Java before heading up the Straits of Malacca to Aru, Samudera Pasai Sultanate, and Lambri, where the people are described as "very honest and genuine," and from there 3 days to the Andaman Islands, and then 8 more days to the west coast of Ceylon where the king reacts with hostility. The fleet departs for Calicut, which is described as "the Great country of the Western Ocean" [11]
1407 Treasure fleet makes the return voyage and stops at Malacca to pick up Parameswara and envoys [12]
Treasure fleet defeats Chen Zuyi's pirate fleet at Palembang and installs Shi Jinqing as "grand chieftain ruling over the native people of that place" [13]
2 October Treasure fleet arrives at Nanjing [12]
5 OctoberWang Hao is ordered to refit 249 "sea transport ships" in "preparation for embassies to the countries of the Western Ocean" [14]
23 October Yongle Emperor issues orders for the second voyage and to confer formal investiture on the king of Calicut [15]
Yongle Emperor summons Javanese envoys to demand restitution for killing 710 Chinese and settles for 10,000 ounces of gold [16]
29 October Yongle Emperor bestows merit upon the officers and men of the treasure fleet [17]
30 OctoberA eunuch Grand Director departs with an imperial letter for the king of Champa [15]
Zheng He departs with a fleet of 249 ships and takes a route similar to the first voyage with the addition of stops at Jiayile, Abobadan, Ganbali, Quilon, and Cochin [18]
140814 FebruaryOrders for the construction of 48 treasure ships are issued from the Ministry of Works in Nanjing [19]
1409JanuaryOrders are issued for the third voyage [20]
15 FebruaryThe Galle Trilingual Inscription is produced [21]
Treasure fleet makes the return voyage and stops at the Similan Islands to cut logs for incense [20]
summer Treasure fleet returns to China [18]
October Zheng He departs with 27,000 men, taking the usual route [21]


1410 Ming–Kotte War : Treasure fleet lands at Galle in Ceylon and captures King Vijayabahu VI of the Kingdom of Gampola [21]
14116 July Treasure fleet returns to Nanjing [22]
141218 December Yongle Emperor issues orders for the fourth voyage [23]
1413autumn Zheng He departs from Nanjing and takes the usual route with the addition of 4 new destinations: the Maldives, Bitra, Chetlat Island, and Hormuz, which is given the following description: "Foreign ships from every place, together with foreign merchants traveling by land, all come to this territory in order to gather together and buy and sell, and therefore the people of this country are all rich" [24]
1415 Treasure fleet captures Sekandar, a rebel against Zain al-'Abidin, king of the Samudera Pasai Sultanate [25]
12 August Treasure fleet arrives back in Nanjing [26]
13 August Zheng He's colleague is sent on a mission bearing gifts to Bengal [26]
141619 November Yongle Emperor bestows gifts upon ambassadors from 18 countries [27]
19 December Yongle Emperor issues orders for the fifth voyage [28]
1417autumn Zheng He departs China taking the previous route to Hormuz, and then Aden, Mogadishu, Barawa, Zhubu, and Malindi [29]
14198 August Treasure fleet returns to China
20 SeptemberAmbassadors present exotic animals to the Ming court including a giraffe imported from Somalia by Bengalis [30]
2 OctoberOrders are issued for the construction of 41 treasure ships [19]


14213 MarchOrders are issued for the sixth voyage and envoys from 16 countries including Hormuz are given gifts of paper and coin money, and ceremonial robes and linings [31]
14 May Yongle Emperor orders the suspension of the treasure voyages [32]
10 NovemberOrders are issued to Zheng He to provide Hong Bao and envoys from 16 countries passage back to their countries; the treasure fleet takes its usual route to Ceylon where it splits up and heads for the Maldives, Hormuz, and the Arabian states of Djofar, Lasa, and Aden, and the two African states of Mogadishu and Barawa; Zheng He visits Ganbali [33]
1422 Treasure fleet regroups at Samudera Pasai Sultanate and visit Siam before heading back to China [33]
3 September Treasure fleet returns to China bringing envoys from Siam, Samudera Pasai Sultanate, and Aden [34]
142427 February Zheng He is sent on a diplomatic mission to Palembang to confer "a gauze cap, a ceremonial robe with floral gold woven into gold patterns in the silk, and a silver seal" on Shi Jinqing's son Shi Jisun [35]
12 August Yongle Emperor dies [36]
7 SeptemberZhu Gaozhi becomes Hongxi Emperor and terminates the treasure voyages [36]
142529 May Hongxi Emperor dies [37]
27 JuneZhu Zhanji becomes Xuande Emperor [38]
142825 March Xuande Emperor orders Zheng He to supervise the reconstruction of the Great Baoen Temple [39]


143025 MayArrangements are made for the provisions of another voyage [40]
29 June Xuande Emperor issues orders for the seventh voyage [41]
143119 January Treasure fleet departs from Nanjing [42]
23 JanuaryThe fleet stops at an island on the Yangtze to hunt animals [42]
3 February Treasure fleet arrives at Liujiagang [42]
14 MarchLiujiagang Inscription is erected [43]
8 April Treasure fleet arrives at Changle [42]
DecemberThe Changle Inscription is erected and the fleet departs from Changle [43]
16 December Treasure fleet arrives near Fuzhou [44]
143227 January Treasure fleet arrives at Vijaya [42]
12 February Treasure fleet departs from Vijaya [42]
7 March Treasure fleet arrives at Surabaya [45]
13 July Treasure fleet departs from Surabaya [45]
24 July Treasure fleet arrives at Palembang [45]
27 July Treasure fleet departs from Palembang [45]
3 August Treasure fleet arrives at Malacca [46]
2 September Treasure fleet departs from Malacca [46]
12 September Treasure fleet arrives at Samudera Pasai Sultanate and Hong Bao and Ma Huan detach from the fleet to visit Bengal [46] [47]
2 November Treasure fleet departs from Samudera Pasai Sultanate [46]
14 November Treasure fleet anchors at Great Nicobar Island for three days; the natives there trade coconuts in log boats [48]
28 November Treasure fleet arrives at Beruwala [46]
2 December Treasure fleet departs from Beruwala [46]
10 December Treasure fleet arrives at Calicut [48]
14 December Treasure fleet departs from Calicut [48]
1433 Zheng He dies [49]
Hong Bao and Ma Huan arrive in Calicut and send seven men to Mecca while Hong Bao visits Djofar, Lasa, Aden, Mogadishu, and Barawa before heading back to China [50]
17 January Treasure fleet arrives at Hormuz [48]
9 March Treasure fleet departs from Hormuz and heads back to China [51]
31 March Treasure fleet arrives at Calicut [51]
9 April Treasure fleet departs from Calicut [51]
25 April Treasure fleet arrives at Samudera Pasai Sultanate [51]
1 May Treasure fleet departs from Samudera Pasai Sultanate [51]
9 May Treasure fleet arrives at Malacca [51]
13 June Treasure fleet arrives at Vijaya [51]
17 June Treasure fleet departs from Vijaya [51]
7 July Treasure fleet arrives in China [52]
14 SeptemberEnvoys from Samudera Pasai Sultanate, Calicut, Cochin, Ceylon, Djofar, Aden, Coimbatore, Hormuz, Kayal, and Mecca present tribute [53]
Ma Huan publishes his Yingya Shenglan [54]
1434 Gong Zhen publishes his Xiyang Fanguo Zhi [54]
1436 Ming dynasty bans building seagoing ships [55]
Fei Xin publishes his Xingcha Shenglan [55]


1464Documents of the treasure voyages are removed from the archives of the Ministry of War and destroyed by Liu Daxia on the basis that they were "deceitful exaggerations of bizarre things far removed from the testimony of people's ears and eyes," and that "the expeditions of Sanbao to the Western Ocean wasted tens of myriads of money and grain, and moreover the people who met their deaths [on these expeditions] may be counted in the myriads. Although he returned with wonderful precious things, what benefit was it to the state? This was merely an action of bad government of which ministers should severely disapprove. Even if the old archives were still preserved they should be destroyed in order to suppress [a repetition of these things] at the root." [56]

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