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A note on Ibn Taghrī Birdī's description of Chinese ships in Aden and Jedda

  • K. N. Chaudhuri

Extract

The Ming maritime expeditions organized by Cheng Ho during the reign of Emperor Yung-lo have been studied intensively by Sinologists and the historians of the eastern Indian Ocean. The scattered references in the Islamic sources to the arrival of Chinese ships at the Middle Eastern ports on the other hand have not been properly collated with the evidence from Chinese historical sources. While working on Ibn Taghrī Birdī's history of Mamlūk Egypt, I accidentally came across a passage which graphically describes the possible economic impact of the Ming voyages on the revenue of local rulers. The historian was referring to the last expedition and the arrival of ships during the reign of al-Malik al-Ashraf Barsbay.

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1 For a discussion of these sources see, Yajima, Hikoichi, A Chronicle of the Rasulid Dynasty of Yemen from the Unique MS Paris No. Arabe 4609, Tokyo, 1976, p. 21.

2 Birdī, Abu'l-Maḥāsin Ibn Taghrī, History of Egypt 1382–1469 A.D. Part IV, 1422–1438 A.D., Translated by William Popper, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1958, p. 86.

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