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Zheng He Park in Yunnan
2005-6-13 11:26:36     
The Kunyang Town of Southeast China's Yunnan Province is the birthplace of Zheng He.

Zheng He Park, about 60 km. away from Kunming City, is situated on Yueshan Hill outside Kunyang Town on the southern end of Diahchi Lake, Kunyang was the birth-place of the great Chinese navigator Zheng He (1371-1435) in the early Ming Dynasty, and the original Yueshan Park has been renamed as Zheng He Park to commemorate the renowned navigator.

The newly-built Zheng He Park is located on top of the hill. The eastern gate has glazed-tiled roof, upturned eaves and magnificent red walls, and four giant Chinese characters meaning "Zheng He Park" is inlaid on the lintel of the southern gate.

Entering the southern gate, one can see on both sides huge relief sculptures entitled "Zheng He Sails to the Western World" which depict the famous navigator leading his enormous fleet to brave the wind and the waves in their westward voyages to the Middle East and Africa. The sculptures most vividly shbw Zheng He's dauntless spirit to fight hardships and dangers in order to win honour for his country. Entering the park through the eastern gate, one first reaches the Zheng He Museum which was formerly Yuhuang Uade Emperor) Temple built in 1623 (the 3rd year of the Tianqi era in the Ming Dynasty) by a famous scholar Li Dengiun. The construction was continued in the years from 1662 to 1723 during the reign of Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty by 2 monks Ru Lun and Ru Zhao. The temple has been repaired in recent years to restore its original splendour. Yuhuang Temple is a building of 2 storeys with upturned eaves and 2 wing-rooms on its south and north. There is a lotus pond in the compound with a stone bridge over it. Flowers are planted in the gardens which add elegance and tranquillity to the park. Ascending Yuhuang Temple, one can have a bird's-eye view of the Kunyang basin. Row after row of buildings are veiled in smokes from kitchen chimneys and thousands of hectares of farmland in the basin spread out in a most colourful crisscross mosaic. The densely-forested Western Hills most vividly silhouette a sleeping beauty lying on her back by the side of the shimmering lake whose vast expanse is dotted with countless fishing boats. On the northern shore of the lake, Kunming City is barely visible in thin mist. The perspective of the lake viewed from the southern shore in Kunyang differs widely from the perspective viewed from Daguan Pavilion on the northern shore. The joy one experiences is also different. Mter repairs, Yuhuang Temple is used as the Zheng He Museum in which are displayed the statue of Zheng He, a painting showing Zheng He's fleet on the oceans, the tombstone of the Imperial Concubine Ying Ling from Fujian Province, a model of Zheng he's flagship and a series of pictures illustrating Zheng He's seven westward voyages.

Amongst the pine and cypress tress in the south of the Zheng He Museum there is Zheng He Pavilion built to commemorate the famous navigator. In the middle of the pavilion, there is a stele erected in 1928 (the 17th year of the Republic of China) engraved with Chinese characters meaning "The Hometown of Zheng He, Who Led Seven Diplomatic Voyages to the West in the Ming Dynasty".

To the west of the Zheng He Museum, there is Mausoleum of Hadji Ma, Zheng He's father. About one month before his maiden voyage to the Western world, Zheng He requested the Minister of the Rites Li Zhigang, a graduate from the Royal College, to write an epitaph for his father. In 1411, the 11th year of Yongle era in the Ming Dynasty, Zheng took the epitaph back home and had it engraved on the tombstone. The horizontal inscrip tion on the top of the tombstone consists 6 traditional Chinese seal characters meaning, "Epitaph of My Father Hadji Ma". The epitaph itself is a record of the moral integrity of Hadji Ma as well as a brief account of Zheng's family. Thanks to this epitaph, people today get to know that Zheng He was born in Kunyang and that he once came back home to Yunn an. This has made up for a gap in the history of the Ming Dynasty. On each side of the tombstone, there stand two limestone tablets. One of them bears the engravings of the Biography of Zheng He, the Imperial Eunuch San Bao, copied by Mr. Shi Fan who styled himself Li Fei, from the history of the Ming Dynasty, and the other the postscript to the Epitaph of Zhen He's Father written by Xia Guangnan. The two stone tablets were both reerected in 1935.


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