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Was Zheng He really buried in Nanjing?

BY :Sophia 丝路云帆

UPDATED :October 19, 2018

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At the southern foothill of Niushou Mountain in Nanjing sits a tomb which is believed to be the resting place of famous Chinese navigator Zheng He.



When first found, it was U-shaped with a mound of about five meters. In 1985, the tomb was renovated with a new stone coffin according to Muslim funeral customs. Four stairs with 7 steps each were built in front of the tomb, symbolizing that Zheng went on seven voyages in a period of 28 years.

Was Zheng really buried there?

Some believe that he died at Calicut, India and was buried at Java, Indonesia. Some think he died on his way back from the seventh voyage and was buried at sea. But the mainstream view is that Zheng died in Nanjing and was buried at the foot of Niushou Mountain.


Historical records from Qing dynasty say that Zheng died at Calicut, India on his voyage back and was buried at the foot of Niushou Mountain in Nanjing. As it took about three months for the fleet to return from Calicut to Nanjing by sea, many suspect the authenticity of the record and thinks that the tomb in Nanjing might probably be just a cenotaph.



“咸阳世家”墓志碑

An epitaph erected by descendents of Zheng in Qing dynasty might have rejected this opinion.

The epitaph, collected from a villager near the mountain in 2014, was said to be discovered in early year on Niushou Mountain. The stone tablet records the family background of the owner and mentions that their ancestor Zheng He used to sail to foreign countries as an envoy and was buried on the Niushou Mountain.

The epitaph also says that Zheng built a tomb temple called "Guangyuan Temple" nearby, which coincides with the record of the temple's location in the Record of Temples in Nanjing, an encyclopedia of Buddhist temples in the city in Ming dynasty.

Descendants of Zheng He verified that information of the same pass down in their family from generations to generations. And there used to be a village called Zhengjia Cun (Zheng's family village) near the Niushou Mountain, where generations of villagers, though not Zheng's descendants, visited the tomb and paid respects to Zheng He.

Therefore, the tomb of Zheng He in Nanjing may be ture to its name.

Source: WeChat(丝路云帆)

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