Wednesday January 30, 2013
Zheng He ‘returns’ to Malacca
Epic voyage: A replica of the vessel helmed by Zheng He in Jonker Walk, Malacca.
MALACCA: Legend has it that Admiral Zheng He and his armada left his home port of Nanjing in China for their epic voyage to India in the Year of the Snake in the 1400s. Along the way they stopped at Malacca.
To mark the auspicious year of his voyage, the Chinese community will display a huge replica of the ship used by the admiral in the city’s world-famous Jonker Street, touted as the pulse of the community here.
Measuring 30m in length and 23m-high, it weighs close to two tonnes and resembles the original Chinese junk used by Zheng He in his sea travels.
Two cranes hoisted the replica to its above-ground berth on Friday night.
State MCA chief Datuk Gan Tian Loo said the replica, assembled by local craftsmen, would be displayed on two pillars that support the artificial junk, the names of the countries the admiral had sailed to.
Zheng He had reputedly sailed to 30 nations across Asia and Africa.
Gan said the craftsmen had incorporated intricate designs from the original vessel into the replica.
“It will be the icon of this historic city during the celebrations,” he said, adding thousands of visitors are expected to view the boat during the festive season.
“The city is ready to welcome the Year of the Snake in style, with carnivals and shows to mark the auspicious event,” he said, adding that Zheng He’s boat will complement the 1Malaysia dragons that adorn Jonker Street to mark the outgoing Year of the Dragon.
One of the dragons, dubbed the Prosperity Dragon, measures 121m-long, and is the longest outdoor dragon effigy in Malaysia.
The Harmony Dragon comes a close second at 91m.
Meanwhile, Temple Street , also known as Harmony Street in the old section of Malacca city, was lit with hundreds of red lanterns and coloured lights on Saturday.
Several arches and billboards with festive greetings and messages already festoon Jonker Street.
Hundreds jammed the streets in the historical hub as Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam led a team of community leaders that included MCA vice-president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Jonker Walk committee adviser Datuk Wira Gan Boon Leong to light the lanterns to usher in the new year.
Earlier, several lion dance troupes, musicians, dancers, performers and entertainers, showcased their talents in various performances to entertain the public and foreign tourists.