Archive for Marco Polo

European Maps, Chinese Sources

By Chao C. Chien

 

Originally published at Diogenes Research

There is no longer doubt that the Age of Discovery was not brought on by European explorers. But then, if they did not “discover” the world, who did? Of course, as many overly eager revisionist theorists allege, the Chinese did, basically on account of the grand maritime naval exercises conducted by the Ming Chinese at the beginning of the 15th century being so close to the start of the European discoveries. Of course, some are driven by reasons that are more personal, such as nationalism. However, is that enough of a justification for revising history? No, that is not. We need something more concrete. I have furnished an argument, based on the analyses of factual evidence, in the book The Chinese Origin of the Age of Discover. Indeed it is now being serialized right here on this website. Nevertheless, it is clear that to some readers that which is being presented in the book may still prove too complex for comprehension. After all, one cannot expect we all be experts in the fields of history, geography, linguistics, philology, and cartography. So, in this article I shall take what is in the book and expand it, in hope that we may all understand the research better.

Let us begin our story two centuries before the real action traditionally began. Hey, if we are to tell a story, why not start from the very beginning, right?

Back in the late 12th century a poor Mongol boy was born in Siberia, but the poor boy was to grow up and become “the” greatest military leader the world had known, greater than Alexander and all the other pretenders.

This boy was name Temujin, better known to us as Genghis Khan. Many scholars had tried their hands at translating this title. Some claimed that it meant a king as great as the ocean, others said it meant ruler over all. In essence, it is basically what Westerners call King of Kings, or so-and-so “The Great.”

Genghis Khan spent his entire adult life leading his mighty Siberian horsemen conquering nations. When he had consolidated the Siberian tribes into an almighty fighting force, his newly created nation came into contact with several neighbors, notably the Jin (forerunners of the Manchu who several hundred years later conquered China) on it south and southeast, and Xi Xia, or Western Xia of a people called Tanguts on it southwest. In 1206 Genghis Khan took out Xi Xia. Then he turned on the Jin, erstwhile overlord of the Mongols. By 1215 Genghis Khan had sacked the Jin capital, present day Beijing, China. Jin then moved its capital to Kaifeng in present day Hunan Province of China, south of the yellow River. Song China by then had shrunk to the south of the Yangtze River. Genghis Khan passed away in 1227, but his son Ogotai Khan finished the job in 1234 and snuffed out the Jin.

Previously the land of the Jin, northern China, belonged to the kingdom of Liao of the Khitan people, who had captured the land from the Song Chinese, forcing the latter to move south and became what historians called the Southern Song. In 1125 Liao was taken over by the Jin. The remnants of the Liao royalty fled west and established the kingdom of Kara-Khitai in present day Chinese Turkestan, Xinjiang Province and Central Asia. Kara means west, thus in Chinese the kingdom is known as Western Liao. The name Khitan was pronounced in the west as Khitai, which in time evolved into Cathay. The people of the west identified them with the Chinese, thus the names Khitai (Russian Kitai) and Cathay became the names of China.

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