Archive for January 6, 2014

Have you ever heard of the Sam Poh Footprint Temple in Penang?   Leave a comment

Have you ever heard of the Sam Poh Footprint Temple in Penang? Yes, a Temple was built after a giant-sized footprint was found on a rock at Batu Maung, Penang. When I was young, I can still recall there is a footprint on a rock by the sea at this fishing village. At the present moment, so much development has taken place as the fishing village had disappeared with condominiums, houses springing up in its place. There was no Temple then as the praying was done using joss sticks at a simple urn on the rock. Nearby there was a seafood restaurant. Later on, there was a famous seafood restaurant on stilts in the middle of the bay with famous satay tipu ie taken without sauce. The toilet was connected to the sea that is just an opening in the wooden plank.
Back to the Temple, Sam Poh Kong was historically known as Admiral Cheng Ho or Zheng He of the early Ming Dynasty in China.

From Wikipedia:
Zheng He (1371–1433), formerly romanized as Cheng Ho, was a Hui court eunuch, mariner, explorer, diplomat, and fleet admiral during China’s early Ming dynasty. Zheng commanded expeditionary voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa from 1405 to 1433. As a favorite of the Yongle Emperor, whose usurpation he assisted, he rose to the top of the imperial hierarchy and served as commander of the southern capital Nanjing. These voyages were long neglected in official Chinese histories but have become well known in China and abroad since the publication of Liang Qihao’s Biography of Our Homeland’s Great Navigator, Zheng He in 1904. A trilingual stele left by the navigator was discovered on Sri Lanka shortly thereafter.

His Life
Zheng He was the second son of a family from Kunyang,[a] Yunnan.[5] He was originally born with the name Ma He.[1][6] His family were Hui people. He had four sisters[1][6][7][8] and one older brother.[1][7]
Zheng He was born into a Muslim family.[6][9][10] However, his religious beliefs may have become all-embracing and eclectic in his adulthood.[9][10] The Liujiagang and Changle inscriptions suggest that Zheng He’s devotion to Tianfei (the patron goddess of sailors and seafarers) was the dominant faith to which he adhered, reflecting the goddess’ central role to the treasure fleet.[11] On his travels, he built mosques while also spreading the worship of Mazu/Tianfei. He apparently never found time for a pilgrimage to Mecca but did send sailors there on his last voyage. He played an important part in developing relations between China and Islamic countries.[12][13] Zheng He also visited Muslim shrines of Islamic holy men in the Fujian province. In 1985 a Muslim-style tomb was built in Nanjing on the site of an earlier horseshoe-shape grave; it contains his clothes and headgear as his body was buried at sea.[14]
He was the great-great-great-grandson of Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar, a Persian who served in the administration of the Mongol Empire and was the Governor of Yunnan during the early Yuan Dynasty.[15][16] His great-grandfather was named Bayan and may have been stationed at a Mongol garrisons in Yunnan.[6] His grandfather carried the title hajji.[1][17] His father had the surname Ma and the title hajji.[1][6][17] The title suggest that they had made the pilgrimage to Mecca.[1][6][17]
In the autumn of 1381, a Ming army invaded and conquered Yunnan, which was then ruled by the Mongol prince Basalawarmi, Prince of Liang.[18] In 1381, Ma Hajji (Zheng He’s father) died as a casualty of the hostilities between the Ming armies and Mongol forces.[7] Dreyer (2007) states that Zheng He’s father died at age 39 while resisting the Ming conquest.[18] Levathes (1996) states Zheng He’s father died at age 37, but it’s unclear whether it was due to helping the Mongol army or due to just being caught in the onslaught of battle.[7] Wenming, the oldest son, would bury their father outside of Kunming.[7] In his capacity, Admiral Zheng He had an epitaph engraved in honor of his father, which was composed by the Minister of Rites Li Zhigang on the Duanwu Festival of the 3rd year in the Yongle reign (1 June 1405).[19] After the fall of Kunming in Yunnan, Zheng He, then only eleven years old,[contradiction] was captured by the Ming-allied Muslim troops of Lan Yu and Fu Youde and castrated along with 380 other captives.[20][verification needed] Zheng He was captured by the Ming armies at Yunnan in 1381.[7] General Fu Youde saw Zheng He on a road and approached him to inquire about the location of the Mongol pretender.[21] Zheng He responded defiantly that he had jumped into a lake.[21] Afterwards, the general took him prisoner.[21] The young Zheng He was soon castrated before being placed in servitude of the Prince of Yan.[18] However, Levathes (1996) has stated that he was castrated in 1385.[21]
He was sent to serve in the household of Zhu Di, Prince of Yan (the future Yongle Emperor).[18][21] He was 10 years old when he entered into the service of the Prince of Yan.[22] Zhu Di was eleven years older than Zheng He.[23] Since 1380, the prince had been governing Beiping (the future Beijing),[18] which was located near the northern frontier where the hostile Mongol tribes were situated.[21][23] Zheng He would spend his early life as a soldier on the northern frontier.[21][22] He often participated in Zhu Di’s military campaigns against the Mongols.[23][24] On March 2, 1390, Zheng He accompanied Zhu Di when he commanded his first expedition, which was a great victory as the Mongol leader Naghachu surrendered as soon as he realized he had fallen for a deception.[25]
Eventually, he would gain the confidence and trust of the prince.[23] Zheng He was also known as “Sanbao” during the time of service in the household of the Prince of Yan.[2] This name was a reference to the Three Jewels (triratna) in Buddhism.[26] He received a proper education while at Beiping, which he would not have had if he had been placed in the imperial capital Nanjing as the Hongwu Emperor did not trust eunuchs and believed that it was better to keep them illiterate.[2] Meanwhile, the Hongwu Emperor exterminated many of the original Ming leadership and gave his enfeoffed sons more military authority, especially those in the north like the Prince of Yan.[27]
Zheng He’s appearance as an adult was recorded: he was seven chi[b] tall, had a waist that was five chi in circumference, cheeks and a forehead that were high, a small nose, glaring eyes, teeth that were white and well-shaped as shells, and a voice that was as loud as a bell. It is also recorded that he had great knowledge about warfare and was well-accustomed to battle.[7][28]
The young eunuch eventually became a trusted adviser to the prince and assisted him when the Jianwen Emperor’s hostility to his uncle’s feudal bases prompted the 1399–1402 Jingnan Campaign which ended with the emperor’s apparent death and the ascension of the Zhu Di, Prince of Yan, as the Yongle Emperor. In 1393, the Crown Prince had died, thus the deceased prince’s son became the new heir apparent.[27] By the time the emperor died (24 June 1398), the Prince of Qin and the Prince of Jin had perished, which left Zhu Di, the Prince of Yan, as the eldest surviving son of the emperor.[27] However, Zhu Di’s nephew succeeded the imperial throne as the Jianwen Emperor.[29] In 1398, he issued a policy known as xiaofan, “reducing the feudatories”, which entails eliminating all the princes by stripping their power and military forces.[30] In August 1399, Zhu Di openly rebelled against his nephew.[31] In 1399, Zheng He successfully defended Beiping’s city reservoir Zhenglunba against the imperial armies.[32][33] In January 1402, Zhu Di began with his military campaign to capture the imperial capital Nanjing.[34] Zheng He would be one of his commanders during this campaign.[34]
In 1402, Zhu Di’s armies defeated the imperial forces and marched into Nanjing on 13 July 1402.[34][35] Zhu Di accepted the elevation to emperor four days later.[35] After ascending the throne as the Yongle Emperor, he promoted Zheng He as the Grand Director (Taijian) of the Directorate of Palace Servants.[35] During the New Year’s day on 11 February 1404,[32] the Yongle Emperor conferred the surname “Zheng” to him (his original name was still Ma He), because he had distinguished himself defending the city reservoir Zhenglunba against imperial forces in the Siege of Beiping of 1399,[32][36] Another reason was that the eunuch commander also distinguished himself during the 1402 campaign to capture the capital Nanjing.[36] It is believed that his choice to confer the surname “Zheng” was because the eunuch’s horse had been killed during the battle at Zhenglunba near Beiping at the onset of his rebellion.[37]
He was initially[when?] called Ma Sanbao: either 三寶 (s 三宝, lit. “Three Gifts”) or 三保 (lit. “Three Protections”, both pronounced sān bǎo).[38]
In the new administration, Zheng He served in the highest posts, as Grand Director[6][8][39] and later as Chief Envoy (正使, zhèngshǐ) during his sea voyages.
In 1424, Admiral Zheng He traveled to Palembang to confer an official seal[c] and letter of appointment upon Shi Jisun, who was placed in the office of Pacification Commissioner.[40] The Taizong Shilu 27 Februari 1424 entry reports that Shi Jisun had sent Qiu Yancheng as envoy to petition the approval of the succession from his father Shi Jinqing, who was the Pacification Commissioner of Palembang, and was given permission from the Yongle Emperor.[41] On 7 September 1424, Zhu Gaozhi had inherited the throne as the Hongxi Emperor after the death of the Yongle Emperor on 12 August 1424.[42][43] When Zheng He returned from Palembang, he found that the Yongle Emperor had died during his absence.[44][45]
After the ascension of Zhu Di’s son as the Hongxi Emperor, the ocean voyages were discontinued and Zheng He was instead appointed as Defender of Nanjing, the empire’s southern capital. In that post, he was largely responsible for the completion of the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, an enormous pagoda still described as a wonder of the world as late as the 19th century.
On 15 May 1426, the Xuande Emperor ordered the Directorate of Ceremonial to sent a letter to Zheng He to reprimand him for a transgression.[46] Earlier, an official[d] petitioned the emperor to reward workmen who had built temples in Nanjing.[46] The Xuande Emperor responded negatively to the official for placing the costs to the court instead of the monks themselves, but he realized that Zheng He and his associates had instigated the official.[46] Dreyer (2007) noted that the nature of the emperor’s words indicated that Zheng He’s behaviour in this situation was the last straw, but that there’s too little information about what had transpired beforehand.[46] Nevertheless, the Xuande Emperor would eventually come to trust Zheng He.[46]
In 1430, the new Xuande Emperor appointed Zheng He to command over a seventh and final expedition into the “Western Ocean” (Indian Ocean).[47] In 1431, Zheng He was bestowed with the title “Sanbao Taijian”.[48]
It is generally believed that Zheng He died two years later after the return trip following the fleet’s visit to Hormuz in 1433.

Inserted by SP Lim

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