Zheng He’s Inheritance- Chinese Charts of the Americas from Ming back to Xia

Speech for Library of Congress 5/16/05

ã2005 Charlotte Harris Rees - (HarrisMaps@msn.com

In 1972 my father Dr. Hendon M. Harris found in an antique shop in Korea a very old map of a style he had never seen before.  Father was born in Kaifeng, China of missionary parents. He was fluent in several classical languages. As early as he learned English he learned Chinese and was well versed in the Chinese classics including the Shan Hai Jing (the worlds' oldest geography). The SHJ- written 2200 B.C. reported expeditions to the ends of the earth including Fu Sang- a beautiful land to the east of China. 

In 1975 my father published two books in one volume of almost 800 pages titled the Asiatic Fathers of America.  Book one is "The Chinese Discovery and Colonization of Ancient America" (2640 B.C. to 2200 B.C.).  Book two is "The Asiatic Kingdoms of America" (458 A.D. to 1000 A.D.). His book contends that Chinese weren’t the only Asians to visit the Americas at early times but our topic today is Chinese. 

Father's book and his ideas had little acceptance before his untimely death in 1981.  By that time he had seven map books and had located 23 other similar maps in museums or collections around the world.  He was convinced that these maps were descendents of the long lost “mother map” that originally accompanied the SHJ.  

In early 2003 my brother and I brought the maps to the Library of Congress to validate them.  After much research, I am thoroughly convinced of my father's theories.  I recently abridged The Asiatic Fathers of America and am now writing The Secret Maps of the Ancient World.   I want to thank Dr. Cyclone Covey, professor emeritus of Wake Forest who has researched, lectured, and written on this subject for over 50 years. He has been my advisor and mentor for these two writing projects. 

I. The Harris Map (Ch’onhado) or (Tian Xia) 

The type of map Father found in the Korean map book is a Ch’onhado. The Chinese name is Tian Xia indicating "everything under heaven" or the whole world. The text of the map is block print in classical Chinese which is read by both Chinese and Koreans. 

The History of Cartography to which I was directed in the Geography and Maps division at the Library of Congress states that 72% of the place names on this map are from the SHJ. (Father believed the other names had been added with the copying over the years). 

Hiroshi Nakamura and other experts believe that this style is an old Chinese map which though lost in China through fire or conflict was preserved by the Koreans.  “During the Ming Dynasty Koreans commonly referred to maps of China as ch’onhado.”[1]  Though this is not a map of just China, China is obviously at the center. Shannon Mc Cune stated “Korean cartography has had a long history with close relations to Chinese cartography."[2] 

The origin date of this style map is unknown.  An early modern commentator, Yi Ik Seup believed it was from "time immemorial."[3]  The History of Cartography says, the map made a “silent and utterly unnoted debut at a date we cannot pin even to the century.”[4]  “Qing commentator Hao Yixing (1747-1825) believed there had once been actual SHJ maps.”[5] Nakamura was convinced “there had been a Chinese prototype of the ch’onhado in existence already in the seventh century, which though later lost in China, would have survived in Korea.”[6] 

Many today believe that the countries in the center of the map (China, Korea, and Japan) are real and those on the ring continent imaginary.  The names and locations of these supposedly imaginary countries on the ring continent are virtually identical on every map and correlate with their location in the SHJ

The  Dr. Hendon M. Harris collection has been validated by some leading experts.  Some of the Harris map books were serious Korean government books with official information such as sites of water wells, military posts, etc.  Why would an imaginary map be included in such serious books? 

The Harris Map collection consists of 7 map books.  I have been told that the oldest two are Ming dynasty - perhaps late 16th Century.  Though these would have been later than Zheng He’s voyage it is probable that similar copies were available to him.  Nakamura writes that there is a tradition that Marco Polo took an Asian world map home in 1295.[7]  Could it have been a copy of this same map?  

There is no mistaking the directions on these maps because they show where the sun rises and sets.  There is a frozen area in the far north.  By comparing this map to our current world map it is easy to see that North and South America do indeed form a type of semi-circle.  Fu Sang is clearly marked where America is. 

II.  Evidence of the early date of the Shan Hai Jing 

The SHJ was quoted many times throughout Chinese history.  For centuries Chinese scholars had studied this SHJ (Mountains and Seas Classic). The story of Fu Sang has become legendary. 

“The SHJ was one of the books on which the Chinese scholars were examined during the time of the great examinations of China."[8] 

According to Chinese chroniclers, a copy of the SHJ was found at the demolition of the house of Confucius [who lived 551-479 B. C.].[9] 

Tseu-hia, a disciple of Confucius, wrote a commentary which says: "During the reign of the Shang dynasty (1766-1122 B.C.) mention was made of a Book of the Mountains (Shan Jing)."[10]  

Chao-shi lived during the Han dynasty.  In a commentary on the Chronicles of the Kingdoms of Wu and Yu he wrote that Y and Yu [2200 B. C.]  composed the Shan Hai King.[11]

There is mention in Chinese writings of earlier Chinese contact with Fu Sang but because of the SHJ we can be sure that they were in Fu Sang by at least 2200 B.C.

III. Evidence that the Shan Hai Jing was not just mythology 

The archaic style of the SHJ makes it difficult to understand. 

Some SHJ statements do seem mythical.  It could be because the expedition encountered people who believed in the strange beasts or we don’t recognize some of the animals because they are now extinct. According to K.C. Chang of Harvard the earliest Chinese works are full of historical data but they are also full of myths and legends.[12]  Dr. Chang stated, "In recent years as the result of archaeological...discoveries, we have become increasingly confident of the essential authenticity of the ancient texts, and the historicity of the many legends."[13] 

However there are American descriptions that one could have only known by being here. 

The SHJ describes enormous trees (which they would have encountered on the West Coast of U.S.A.). 

From the SHJ's directions and distances of Fu Sang Henriette Mertz in her book Pale Ink charted the routes in America.  She said that these descriptions fit no other place in the world. 

The SHJ accurately describes the Grand Canyon. 

 The SHJ describes several animals native to the Americas. They include opossum, armadillo, peccary, pronghorn, coyote, bald eagle, elephant seal, and appaloosa horse. 

IV. Further Evidence that the Fu Sang was America and the Chinese had been here early 

Much evidence shows us that people repeatedly crossed the Pacific and carried things back and forth. 

Tong Fan Tso (who lived around the third century B.C.) stated that Fu Sang is 3300 miles wide and is bounded by vast oceans and has huge trees. That is almost the exact width of America. How could someone in China that long ago have known this? 

Directions to Fu Sang.  Li-Yen a Chinese historian who lived in the Seventh Century wrote that in order to reach Fu Sang one should sail from the coast of the Province of Leao-Tong, north of Beijing.  From there one would travel to Japan.  From there to Wen-Shun then easterly to Da Han and from Da Han on to Fu Sang.[14]  (Our maps show both Da Han and Fu Sang on the right side of the ring continent.  Da Han is where Alaska would be.) 

Certain plants and animals that originated in the Americas existed in Asia long before Columbus.   

Peanuts- native to the Americas- have been found in two different Chinese digs dating back to 3300-2800 B.C. in Kiangsu (Jiangxu) and Chekiang (Zhejiang) Provinces [15]  

The American hibiscus was taken first to China and then by the Chinese to Persia before the time of Christ.[16] 

According to George Carter there is proof that the sweet potato was carried out of America at least three different times before Columbus.[17] The sweet potato from America had a very early presence in Asia.[18]  It had reached Polynesia by 800  and even had the same name there as in America.[19]

Conversely several items that originated in Asia were found in the Americas. 

George Carter has shown that chickens found in the Americas were Asian types. Chicken bones in America dated to 900 A.D. are very similar to those from southeast Asia.[20]  Even what some American Indians called chickens is almost identical  to their Chinese names.[21] 

The sailing rafts of Ecuador are of Asiatic design.  The American Indian name for these sailing rafts is derived from ancient Chinese.[22] 

There were stone bark-cloth beaters in S. East Asia before 2400 B.C. Nearly identical beaters from the Americas date back to about 1500 B.C.[23] 

Twice since 1976 Chinese stone anchors (a style unknown to the early Native Americans but used in China 2000 years ago) were found off the California Coast. Judging the manganese accumulation on them it was estimated they had been on the sea bed for 2000 to 3000 years.[24] 

An expert on pyramids around the world states that the pyramids in LaVenta are so similar to those of those of about 1100 B.C. in China that they had to have been built by someone trained by the Chinese of that era.  Furthermore, he states that who ever built them also brought the hookworm from Asia with them. It had to have come by sea because hookworm only survives in warm climates and could not have survived the trip over the Bering Straits.[25] 

China had cotton well before 3000 B.C.[26]   Wild  American cotton can’t be spun or made into cloth unless it is  crossed with old world cotton.[27] Someone would have had to bring old world cotton seeds to America to do that. Cotton in Peru has been carbon dated to before 2000 B.C. 

The banana has no wild relative in the new world but the banana leaf has been frequently found in ancient Peruvian tombs.[28] 

At least two Chinese scholars independently have identified multiple Shang era Chinese characters in the Olmec culture. At LaVenta a list of Chinese ancestors including monarchs of the Chinese Shang Dynasty appear on the celts.[29]  Additional proof is that the Olmec culture unexplainably sprang  fully developed  about the time the Shang dynasty in China ended about 1122 B. C.  At that time up to 1/4 million Chinese fled to sea and were never heard of in China again as they fled the political upheaval.[30] 

Native languages of the Americas contain many Chinese words.[31] 

Recent digs in Peru show cities and civilizations sprang at 3000 B.C.[32]  Domesticated plants recovered there included cotton. Irrigation systems are reminiscent of China. Some cities in Peru still bear Chinese names that were being used before Europeans arrived.[33] 

V.  How was this trip possible as early as 2200 B.C.? 

1. There are wonderful rivers in the oceans.  In the Atlantic it is the Gulf Stream.  In the Pacific it is called the Japan or Kamchatka Current which goes in the same clockwise direction as the Gulf Stream.  Some authors describe the Japan Current as a conveyor belt.[34]  Perhaps it can be better understood as a riptide.  It will carry against the wind so a boat doesn’t even need to be large or have a sail. Once in the current a navigator has to deliberately exit the current or will end up in America. 

2. Early Chinese had fine ships 

The oldest preserved vessel in the world (dated 2700 B.C.) is in Egypt.  It is 146 1/2 feet long and is a sea-going style.[35]  Is it not possible that early Chinese could have been just as advanced? 

      Chinese traditions indicate that they had seaworthy ships from as early as 2500 B.C.

      Chinese had a compass very early. 

Ling Shun-Sheng proved in 1956 that even bamboo sailboats could navigate the ocean. [36] 

By 412 A.D. Fa Hein’s ship could take 200 passengers plus 200 crew. 

Young Su of Sui dynasty (581-617) built ships with five decks.  They could carry 800.[37] 

We know of the progression of ships to the grand size that Zheng He commanded. What were all those ships doing?  They were not sitting in the harbors. We believe there is much evidence that many crossings were made at different times. 

VI  Return to look at the Harris map and consider the West side of it 

I have been discussing the early trip to the West Coast of America but this same map may show that both coasts of the Americas were discovered at that early time.  Four parties were sent out to the ends of the earth in the four directions for a period of years.  It was their compiled reports that comprise the SHJ.  We know that they reached Africa because the SHJ mentions hippopotamus and other African animals.  Let us take another look at the map.  Africa shown on the Harris map is very similar to the Africa shown on the Kangnido.  Also, in the area that we designate Africa is Black Grandson land. 

If the right side of the Harris map is the west coast of  the Americas, what is the left side of the map?  Could it be the east coast of the Americas? 

Again, was this possible at that early date? Just last year a lone sailor in a sailboat circumnavigated the globe.  This trip around the world has also been done in a dugout canoe.[38] 

As you will see later, some locations on the Map of the Southeast Maritime Countries correlate with those shown on the Harris collection. If the Chinese knew about the whole world at that early date would not Zheng He have been privy to this information?  These maps were Zheng He’s inheritance-showing him the way.

[1]  Gari Ledyard, “Cartography in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam,”  The History of Cartography, Vol 2, Bk 2 p.262, 267 

[2] Shannon McCune, Imago Mundi 1978 Volume 4, p. 112 

[3]  Ledyard,   p. 260. 

[4]  Ledyard, p. 256 

[5] Ledyard, p. 262 

[6] Ledyard, p. 263 

[7] Hiroshi Nakamura, East Asia in Old Maps, Center for East Asian Cultural Studies, Tokyo, 1964, p. 11 

[8]  Henriette Mertz, Pale Ink, p. 18 

[9]  Edward Vining, An Inglorious Columbus, London, 1885, p. 672  quoted by Hendon Harris, The Asiatic Fathers of America, Taipei, 1975, Bk 1, p. 97 

[10]  M. Bazin, Journal Asiatique, 1839  quoted in Harris, Bk. 1, p. 97 

[11]  M. Bazin on authority of Vining p. 673 quoted  in Harris in Bk. 1, p. 99 

[12] K.C. Chang,  Art, Myth, and Ritual, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1983, p. 5 

[13] Chang, p. 120 

[14]  Hendon M. Harris, The Asiatic Fathers of America, Taipei, 1975, Bk. 2, p.248 

[15]   Stephen C. Jett, "Precolumbian Transoceanic Contacts," The Diffusion Issue, Stonehenge Viewpoint, 1991, p. 26

[16]  George Carter, “The George Carter Letters,” The Diffusion Issue,  Stonehenge Viewpoint, 1991, p. 15 

[17]    Carter,  p. 15 

[18]   Cyclone Covey, A Critical Reprise of Aboriginal American History, 6th Edition, 2005, p. 203 

[19] George Carter,  “The Diffusion Controversy,” Across Before Columbus,  New England Antiquities  Research Association, Edgecomb, ME, 1998, p. 4 

[20]   Carter,  The Diffusion Issue, p. 15 

[21]   Robert Schoch,  Voyages of the Pyramid Builders, Putnam, New York, 2003,  p. 142 

[22]   Carter, p. 16 

[23]   Jett, p. 26 

[24] Wang Yung, “S. F. Sunday Examiner and Chronicle,” November 25, 1979  quoted in The Chinese of Mendocino Coast, Vol XV, Spring 1990, p.4 

[25]   Schoch,  p. 142 

[26]   Covey, p. 220 

[27] Thor Heyerdahl, “Isolationist or Diffusonist,”  The Quest for America, Pall Mall Press, London, 1971, p. 133-135 

[28]   Heyerdahl, p. 135- 136 

[29]   Mike Xu, Origin of the Olmec Civilization, U. of Central Oklahoma Press, Edmond, OK, 1996, p. 17 

[30]   Xu,  p.17 

[31] Harris, Book 2. p. 241-246 

[32] Jonathan Haas et al,  “Dating the Late Archaic Occupation of the Norte Chico region in Peru,” Nature Vol. 432,  Dec. 23, 2004, p. 1020 -1023 

[33] Harris, Book 2, p. 402 

[34] Heyerdahl, p. 122 

[35] Heyerdahl, p. 147 

[36] Covey,  p. 203 

[37]  Harris, Book 1, p. 269. 

[38] George Carter, “Did China Discover America Before Columbus?”  Review Magazine, April 1979,  p. 76 

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