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Melaka, Singapore, Riau, and Lingga: Chinese Sea Routes and the Terms / Names guanchang 官厰 and guanyu 官嶼 (15th Century)

Roderich Ptak

Pages 185 - 227

In early Ming times, trade and traffic between China and the ports around the Indian Ocean were mostly by way of the Melaka Strait. Much has been written on the history of Melaka and other polities adjacent to that strait, while we know less about the labyrinth of islands, reefs, and channels to the east of it, i.e., the area extending from modern Singapore “down” to Bangka. The present article tries to link the current discussion on the so-called Melaka guanchang and the possible role of the islands in front of that polity to Chinese navigation through the complex island world south of Singapore. This involves a re-examination of certain toponyms and information drawn from various texts and the “Zheng He map”. It also involves the terms / names guanchang and guanyu, questions related to logistics, and some important suggestions regarding sailing courses offered by Lin Woling and other scholars.

Keywords: Zheng He; Melaka, Lingga and Riau Islands; Chinese Navigation and sea straits; terms/ names guanchang and guanyu


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