Dr. Sally K. Church

This paper examines the issues and arguments surrounding the question of
whether Zheng He’s 鄭和ships could have been the size recorded in the official
Ming history (Ming shi 明史), that is, 44 zhang long by 18 zhang wide, or 447
by 183 feet.* It first examines the written sources, which include stone inscriptions,
first-hand accounts, the Ming Shilu 實錄 or “Veritable Records,” official
and unofficial histories, illustrations, and shipyard treatises. It focuses primarily
on sources dating before 1597 because of the relatively recent (in the last decade)
assertions that the dimensions recorded in the Ming shi may have originated in
the novel by Luo Maodeng 羅懋登 published in that year. In addition, it investigates
the archaeological evidence derived from shipwrecks that have been excavated
off the coast of China and Korea, and analyses the way in which one fine in
particular – the 11-metre-long rudderpost discovered at the treasure-ship shipyard
in Nanjing – has been interpreted.

To read and download the full paper, please press on the link below:


Impressions of early 13th century Central Asia as seen through the Poetry of Yelü Chucai 耶律楚材 (Yeh-lü Ch’u-ts’ai) (1190-1244)

by Dr. Sally K Church (University of Cambridge) and Prof. Qiu Jiangning 邱江宁 (Zhejiang Normal University)

The paper we presented in Cambridge contained a large amount of introductory material, not only about Yelü Chucai himself, but also about the rather complicated historical context in which he lived. Due to the nature of this distinguished audience here at Nanjing University, it is not necessary for me to describe the historical context in great detail, though I will mention a few aspects that are relevant to this discussion. In what follows, I shall suggest a new theoretical approach that could be taken to his poetry and travel account. Then I shall set the poems in the context of his life and the particular setting of the Western Campaign, before focusing on the poems themselves.

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