The University of Chicago News Office
Aug. 4, 2005 Press Contact: William Harms
(773) 702-8356

Guy Alitto to speak at Saturday lecture on famed Chinese Navigator


Bao-Chuan treasure boat

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Zheng He

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Guy Alitto, Professor in History and an authority on Chinese history, will be among the speakers at in a series of lecture on Chinese explorer Zheng He to begin at 4 p.m. Saturday in the auditorium of the Museum of Science and Industry. Other speakers are Professor Ming Wan of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, China and Professor Jin Wu, of the National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan. Alitto is chairman of the lectures, which are free and open to the public.

The lecturers are part of a Chicago observance Saturday of China’s Admiral Zheng He voyage, 600 years ago in July in which Zheng led a mighty armada on the first of seven voyages on a mission of diplomacy and trade.

The armada included treasure boats (or Bao-Chuan), which are the largest wooden ships ever built. The Zheng He voyages covered 10,000 miles with a fleet of more than 300 ships and crews totaling 30,000 men. The voyages sailed from China, crossed the South China Sea, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea and went as far as East Africa.

A replica (4 feet long, 1 foot and 8 inches wide, and 3 feet tall) of Zheng He’s largest treasure boat will be on display at the lecture session. According to the maker of the replica, Quanzhou Maritime Museum and China Ancient Ship Modeling Center, the original treasure boat was 125 meters long and 51 meters wide, with a maximum loading capacity of 7,000 tons and total water displacement of 14,800 tons.

Many businesses and individuals contributed funds to purchase the treasure boat replica, and it will be donated to the Museum of Science and Industry as a valuable addition to its ship collection at a private banquet following the lecture session.

The lecture session is organized by the Zheng He Foundation in Chicago and the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago. The following organizations are co-sponsors for the event: Dr. Joseph Chow Memorial Foundation, Perot Systems, Fu-Lu Foundation, Scienstry Inc., Spherotech Inc., International Pediatric Cooperative, Motorola, Abbott, Hospira and Mesa Technology. National Geographic Society will donate 250 copies of the July issue of the National Geographic magazine to the participants of the event. In the July issue, the story of Zheng He's voyages was detailed in a 22-page article by Frank Viviano.

Lecture Details

Attendees of the lecture session will need to check in at a registration table in the Museum of Science and Industry’s Great Hall. Registration will be opened from 3:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. The event will be held in the Museum’s auditorium. Please note that attendance to the lecture session does not include admission to the Museum. The Museum is located at 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive. Parking will be free of charge for the attendees of the lecture session.
Last modified at 10:01 AM CST on Thursday, August 04, 2005.

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