My drawing of Chinese Zheng He’s flagship 1405, drawn to the same scale as the Santa Maria, made famous by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
Zheng He was a Muslim Hui-Chinese, mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who commanded voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Somalia and the Swahili coast, collectively referred to as the “Voyages of Zheng He” from 1405 to 1433.
Chinese records state that Zheng He’s fleet sailed as far as East Africa. According to medieval Chinese sources, Zheng He commanded seven expeditions. The 1405 expedition consisted of 27,800 men and a fleet of 62 treasure ships supported by approximately 190 smaller ships.
“Treasure ships” used by the commander of the fleet and his deputies were (nine-masted, about 127 metres (416 ft) long and 52 metres (170 ft) wide), according to later writers.
The Santa María (sunk December 25, 1492 ) was probably a medium sized carrack, about 58ft (17.7m) long on deck, “very little larger than 100 tons” and was used as the flagship for the expedition. The other ships of the Columbus expedition were the smaller caravel-type ships Santa Clara, remembered as La Niña (“The Girl”), and La Pinta (“The Painted One”). All these ships were second-hand (if not third or more) and were never meant for exploration.