Sam Po Kong temple in Semarang and Admiral ZhengHe

Published February 22nd, 2012

In the early 15th century, long before Columbus discovered America, Admiral Zheng He set sail to explore the seas of Asia. Commanding 250 massive ships and 28,000 sailors, Admiral Zheng He led one of the largest expeditions in the history of globalization.
He prevailed over his Muslim Hui backgrounds in the imperial courts of Ming Dynasty & was given command of seven naval expeditions that reached as far as East Africa.

Read more: http://www.turisku.com/indonesia-history/admiral-zheng-he-legacy-in-semarang/

SamPoKong temple story, see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Poo_Kong

Admiral ZhengHe, once in Semarang

Zheng He (1371–1433; simplified Chinese: 郑和; traditional Chinese: 鄭和; pinyin: Zhèng Hé), also known as Ma Sanbao (simplified Chinese: 马三宝; traditional Chinese: 馬三寶) and Hajji Mahmud Shamsuddin (Arabic: حاجي محمود شمس الدين‎) was a Hui-Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who commanded voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, East Africa, and the Horn of Africa collectively referred to as the "Voyages of Zheng He" or "Voyages of Cheng Ho" from 1405 to 1433.


  • February 4th, 2012
  • Canon EOS 600D
  • 67mm / f/22 / 1/200 sec

a statue, in SamPoKong temple

Zheng He is China's most famous maritime explorer. His extraordinary ability and vision found brilliant expression in the great achievements of his life, including maritime exploration, foreign diplomacy, and military affairs.
Shortly after Zhu Di ascended the throne as the Yongle Emperor, he assigned Zheng He to the area of maritime affairs. Zheng He first conducted an exhaustive study of existing nautical charts, celestial navigation, eastern and western almanacs, astronomy and geography, marine sciences, piloting, and shipbuilding and repair.
Between the third year of the Yongle reign period (1405) and the eighth year of the Xuande reign period (1433), Zheng He led seven great western maritime expeditions, traversing the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean into the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, and reaching as far west as the east coast of Africa.
There is evidence of Zheng He's visits in over thirty Asian and African countries and regions. These seven voyages, unprecedented in size, organization, navigational technology, and range, demonstrated not only the power and wealth of the Ming Dynasty, but also Zheng He's extraordinary command ability.


  • February 4th, 2012
  • Canon EOS 600D
  • 62mm / f/7.1 / 1/160 sec

the view of Sam Po Kong

Its commander was, without question, the most towering maritime figure in the 4,000-year annals of China, a visionary who imagined a new world and set out consciously to fashion it. He was also a profoundly unlikely candidate for admiral in anyone's navy, much less that of the Dragon Throne.
The greatest seafarer in China's history was raised in the mountainous heart of Asia, several weeks' travel from the closest port. More improbable yet, Zheng was not even Chinese—he was by origin a Central Asian Muslim. Born Ma He, the son of a rural official in the Mongol province of Yunnan, he had been taken captive as an invading Chinese army overthrew the Mongols in 1382. Ritually castrated, he was trained as an imperial eunuch and assigned to the court of Zhu Di, the bellicose Prince of Yan.
Within 20 years the boy who had writhed under Ming knives had become one of the prince's chief aides, a key strategist in the rebellion that made Zhu Di the Yongle (Eternal Happiness) emperor in 1402. Renamed Zheng after his exploits at the battle of Zhenglunba, near Beijing, he was chosen to lead one of the most powerful naval forces ever assembled.
Six centuries later I left China with photographer Michael Yamashita in search of Zheng He's legacy, a 10,000-mile (16,093-kilometer) journey that would carry us from Yunnan to Africa's Swahili coast. Along the way I came to feel that I had found the man himself.


  • February 4th, 2012
  • Canon EOS 600D
  • 18mm / f/11 / 1/500 sec

praying altar

On six of these expeditions, he also visited the island of Java, including Semarang. Prior to the fleet’s arrival, the current capital of Central Java was just a small fishing village under the declining Majapahit Empire. It is now the 7th most populous Indonesian cities.
Zheng He’s legacy in Semarang started when his second-in-command, Wang Jing Hong, was suddenly taken ill while they were sailing through the Java Sea. For him to fully recover, they decided to temporarily camp near a cave in Semarang. Some of the fleet members, including Wang Jing Hong, eventually decided to stay in Semarang & became the early founders of the Chinese Indonesian community in Indonesia.
The local villagers regarded Zheng He’s visit as a great event and built a Buddhist temple at the cave site. The temple is now known as Sam Poo Kong Temple (Zheng He’s other name is Sam Poo) or “Gedung Batu” (literally means Stone Building). Up until today, there are annual celebrations held every 29th and 30th of the sixth month according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar to commemorate the Admiral’s first expedition.

Read more: http://www.turisku.com/indonesia-history/admiral-zheng-he-legacy-in-semarang/

  • February 4th, 2012
  • Canon EOS 600D
  • 42mm / f/5.6 / 1/80 sec

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