S. Li, Y. Zheng, G. Li, X. Dai

Department of hydrography and cartography, Dalian, China


Zheng-He is a famous navigator and chart cartographer in Ming Dynasty of China. He had led the ship fleet to sail to northern Indian Ocean, Arab Sea, Red Sea and Eastern Africa seven times from 1405 to 1433. He had drawn over 40 sheets of charts that were named after him and called them Zheng-He Nautical charts. In his charts, the content is very rich and colorful, the features relating to navigation are mainly described, and charts are laid along the center of shipping courses from left to right. Zheng-He Nautical Charts are the effulgent markers in Chinese chart developing history. The collection of his charts is the first chart atlas in China, and is the earliest chart atlas in the world, which it was earlier than L.J. Waghenaer’s two chart atlas (the earliest chart atlas ever to be thought) about a hundred and fifty years that were published in 1584 and 1592. The characteristics of Zheng-He Nautical Charts are stated, and influence to present charts on cartography is studied from the aspects of cartography features selecting, symbolizing, coloring and sheeting.