The Hui Communities of China and Admiral Zheng He

The article below has been forwarded to by Sheda Vasseghi. Kindly note that a number of pictures and their accompanying captions have been inserted by into the original text by Sheda Vasseghi. A number of sentences and paragraphs have also been added by (esp. after the Chinese map of 1418) into the Sheda Vasseghi article.


Sheda Vasseghi has a Master of Arts in Ancient History, with honors, emphasis on Ancient Persia, from American Military University (West Virginia) and a Master of Science in Business Administration from Strayer University (Washington, DC). Ms. Vasseghi is an adjunct professor of history at Northern Virginia Community College. She is also a correspondent with Freepressers in relation to Iran’s affairs. Ms. Vasseghi is a spokeswoman for Azadegan Foundation, a non-profit organization in support of a secular, democratic Iran. She joined persepolis3D in 2003 in handling historical consultation on Iran’s history as well as public relations matters. Ms. Vasseghi may be contacted in relation to the following: (1) planning exhibitions for advertising purposes in promoting historical and cultural awareness of ancient and modern Iran (2) educational services such as conducting and providing classes, workshops, and seminars featuring interviews and speeches in the field of Iranian affairs (3) custom writing services in the field of Iranian affairs and (4) writing of articles for professional journals in the field of Iranian affairs. Ms. Vasseghi may be contacted at


The Chinese word HUI (“whey”) referred to all immigrant Muslims of different ethnic groups such as Arabs, Persians and Turks residing in China. According to the 13th c. Persian historian Juvaini, after the fall of Central Asian cities such as  to Mongolians, the lives of some 100,000 artisans and craftsmen were spared by the Mongols after they conquered Samarqand and Bukhara: the Mongols forcibly deported them to China. These were the founders of many early Hui communities.

chinese-hui-operaChinese Hui opera performer on stage during the 25th Chinese Drama Plum Blossom Award competition at Xinan theater (June 4, 2010 in Chengdu, China). The Drama Plum Blossom Award is the highest theatrical award bestowed by China (Picture source: 123RF).

During the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), the three dominant administrative languages became Chinese, Mongolian and Persian. Michael Dillon has noted on the  persistence of Persian words and the “special” vocabulary that continue to permeate among the Hui communities.

China-Iran-Table 38-Iranica[Click to Enlarge Table] Persian and Central Asian Nesbas discovered in the funerary inscriptions in China. As noted by For more on this topic consult Professor Cheng Da-Sheng’s article “Chinese-Iranian Relations: Persian Settlements in Southeastern China during the T’ang, Sung, and Yuan Dynasties ” in the Encyclopedia Iranica (Picture source: Encyclopedia Iranica).

Descendants of the Hui also mixed Confucianism with their ancestral beliefs. Given ancient Iranian tradition and philosophy in relation to the concept of law (Old Persian “dada”), one may not bypass the notable 16th c. Hui personality in Chinese history known as “the incorruptible and upright judge Hai Rui,” who is a political icon for having been credited with cleaning up corruption in regional government. On another matter, note the similarities between Hui ethnic clothing with Iranian Tajiki attire as seen in the music video below:

Ethnic Hui folk song “Flower and Juvenile” performed by Hui pop singer Ha.

The Mail article “Does this map from 1418 prove historian’s controversial claim that the New World was discovered by the CHINESE 70 years before Columbus?” has stirred a considerable amopunt of controversy.

The article pertains to the famous Chinese explorer and diplomat Admiral Zheng He (1371–1433) who was of Persian descent. His great great great grandfather was a Persian called Shams al-Din Omar, who was appointed as governor of Yunnan during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). His great grandfather’s name was Bayan.

Admiral ZhengStatue of Chinese admiral of Persian descent, Zheng He (Picture source: Business Week)

As a man of science, Zheng He is credited with having improved the places he visited by introducing them to the calendar, meteorological system, medical advancements, technologies of agriculture, manufacture, and the like. Tradition has it that because of Zheng He’s visit, the people of Malacca learned how to build city walls and dig water wells.

1-Admiral Zheng and FleetChinese Admiral Zheng He is recognized for having sailed with his giant fleet to Europe and Africa. Historian Gavin Menzies has proposed that Zheng He also reached the New World (Source: Chris Heller/CORBIS & The Mail).

Zheng He is also credited with having taught the Siamese water treatment and how to fertilize farmland. In 1911, the “Zheng He Stele” dated 1409 was discovered in Sri Lanka. The stele not only describes Zheng He’s donations to the Buddhist temple, but in accordance with his Iranian ancestral spirit of tolerance, Zheng He and his company paid respect to all local deities and customs.

1-zheng-he-SteleThe Zheng He stele which has inscriptions in Chinese, Tamil and Persian languages (Source: 4.bp.blogspot).  It is notable that Zheng He made a determined effort to pay equal homage to all of Sri Lanka’s religions. 

Perhaps most intriguing is a recent discovery of an ancient Chinese map dated to 1418. This  map is claimed to show the Americas. If true, this would indicate that the Chinese knew of the Americas centuries in advance of the Europeans. Such a paradigm shift would challenge the notion that Christopher Columbus was the first explorer to discover the New World.

Chinese Map-1418A Chinese map dated to 1418 which shows remarkable accuracy with respect to cartographic representation of all the continents, including North America. According to Gavin Menzies, Chinese knowledge of the Americas is derived from the voyages of Zheng He. This is interesting as Columbus did not set foot onto the New World until 1492; technically he had discovered islands off the coast of America which then opened the door to other voyages towards the New World. It was Amerigo Vespucci who actually reached America in 1498-99. More recently, the notion of Columbus being the first European to discover the Americas has also been challenged (Source: Chris Heller/CORBIS & The Mail).

At the time of his death, Zheng He had visited 38 countries in 28 years. Ironically, in 1433, Zheng He died while returning from a trip to his ancestral homeland, Kingdom of Hormuz within the Persian Gulf! As the case with many great admirals, he was buried at sea.

persian-gulf--Hormuz-iran-antique-map-by-bellin-1746[Click to Enlarge] The Kingdom of Hormuz as depicted in a European map by Bellin in 1746 (Picture source: Map and Maps). Also known as Ohrmuzd, the term “Hormuz” is another variation of the Zoroastrian term “Ohrmazd” (the supreme monotheistic spiritual entity). By the 13th century Hormuz was under the rule of Persia. Zheng He made his final voyage to this island in the Persian Gulf.

The links between China and Turco-Iranian or Persianate civilization continue to endure. The two realms have had a rich interchange of culture, especially in cuisine, technology, musical instruments and the arts.

Mehdi Farrokh and Chiang Kai Shek in Nanking 1949Ambassador of Iran to China, Mehdi Farrokh (1886-1973), greeted in Nanking by President of nationalist China, Chiang Kai Shek (1887-1975) in 1949. The two men developed a close friendship and often discussed the ancient ties of the Persianate and Chinese civilizations. Chiang Kai Shek became deeply embroiled in major battles against Mao Tse Tung’s Communist armies – Farrokh was to witness the occupation of Nanking by Mao’s troops. Chiang Kai Shek and the nationalist forces then fled to modern-day Taiwan.

Mehdi Farrokh wrote a book on his mission to China entitled “Safar be Keshvar e Asrar Amiz e Chin” [Travel to the Wondrous/Mysterious Country of China]” in which he highly praised the people, culture, cuisine, civilization and work ethic of China. Mehdi Farrokh also noted the deep sense of integrity, intelligence, kindness, and spirit of generosity in the person of Chiang Kai Shek and all Chinese whom he had the opportunity to contact during his mission to China.   This book along with scores of others from the late Mehdi Farrokh’s office, had been donated by Kaveh Farrokh to the “Ketabkhaneye Melli Iran” [National Library of Iran] in Tehran in the summer of 2001.

Japan and Ancient Iran


Readers interested in the relationships between ancient Iran and Japan are invited to read the following article in Persian by Dr. Jamshid Jamshidi:

Japan and Ancient Iran (in Persian)-ژاپن و ايران باستان(pdf)

For more English-language articles on the relationships between ancient Iran and Japan, readers are referred to Dr. Jamshid Jamshidi’s SHAMOGOLOPARVANEH website which hosts the following articles by Japanese scholar, Dr. Masato Tojo: 


Japanese scroll calligraphy of Bodhidharma by Hakuin Ekaku 白隠慧鶴, 1686–1769. The Bodhidharma is said to be a blue-eyed Persian 碧眼胡僧(Hekigan-kosō) in Zen tradition. “Blue-eyed Persian” means Hellenized Persian, and/or a Persian who has much knowledge about western culture. Mithra’s magi are such Persians (Picture and information from Dr. Masato Tojo on Zen Buddhism and Persian culture).

Dr. Masato Tojo: Zen Buddhism and Persian Culture


Dr. Masato Tojo has outlined a new article on the links between ancient Iran’s Simurgh (the Persian Phoenix) and the Zen Buddhist culture of Asia – kindly click on the pdf link below:  

Dr. Masato Tojo: Zen Buddhism and Persian Culture: An investigation on the Simurgh (Persian Phoenix) culture and Zen Buddhism (pdf)

The largest statue of the Buddha in the Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan as it appeated under repairs circa 1975. This was destroyed by explosives in March 2001 by the Taliban movement. There are serious studies underway to reconstrust and refurbish the site as much as possible. The iranian kingdom of the Kushans, under Kanishka the Great, did much to promote Buddhism.

For more articles and information on the links between ancient iran, China and the Far East kindly consult:

Iran, China, India and Asia

Ancient Persia: Influences on Ancient Chinese and Japanese Calendars


The information below has been provided by Dr. Masato Tojo’s responses to the Distinguished Jamshid Jamshidi’s inquiries regarding the ancient Japanese calndar.


1. Chinese calendar

The traditional Chinese calendar is called Kyūreki旧暦 (old calendar) and/or Noureki農暦 (agricultural calendar). Its first day of a year was Winter Solstice in 1700 B. C. It was greatly improved in the time of the Tang dynasty under the influence of Persia and India. The new calendar is called Tai-en-reki大衍暦. This is the basic form of Kyūreki. Here are its characteristic points:  

(a) Official first day of a year is Risshun立春 (315 Zodiacal degree). The reason why this day became the first day of a year is for the convenience of agriculture. This is the reason why it is called Noureki (Agricultural calendar).

(b) Astronomical first day of a year is Spring Equinox (0 Zodiacal degree).

(c) The center day of a month in Kyūreki (Tai-en-reki) approximately corresponds to the first day of Persian month (Table 1).

Note that Spring Equinox (b) and center day of the first month in Kyūreki (c) are developed under the influence of Persian and Indian astronomy and astrology.

(d) Spring Equinox (Shunbun) is the day when people venerate their ancestors. This tradition is said to be Iranian origin (Farvardin).

Table 1 Kyūreki (Tai-en-reki)


24 Solar Terms Nijūyon-sekki二十四節気

Season 季節

Month 月

Beginning day 節(せつ)

Center day of Month 中(ちゅう)

Spring 春


Risshun立春 Zodiacal degree: 315 Gregorian day: Feb 4th

Usui雨水 330 Feb 19th


Keichitsu啓蟄 345 Mar 6th

Shunbun春分 0 Spring Equinox Mar 21th


Seimei清明 15 Apr 5th

Koku-u穀雨 30 Apr 20th

Summer 夏


Rikka立夏 45 May 6th

Shōman小満 60 May 21th


Bōshu芒種 75 Jun 6th

Geshi夏至 90 Summer Solstice Jun 21th


Shōsho小暑 105 Jul 7th

Taisho大暑 120 Jul 23th

Autumn 秋


Risshū立秋 135 Aug 7th

Shosho処暑 150 Aug 23th


Hakuro白露 165 Sep 8th

Shūbun秋分 180 Sep 23th


Kanro寒露 195 Oct 8th

Sōkō霜降 210 Oct 23th

Winter 冬


Rittō立冬 225 Nov 7th

Shōsetsu小雪 240 Nov 22th


Daisetsu大雪 255 Dec 7th

Tōji冬至 270 Winter Solstice Dec 22th


Shōkan小寒 285 Jan 5th

Daikan大寒 300 Jan 20th

The time of the Tang唐(とう) dynasty (618-907) was a golden age of cosmopolitan culture.

Not only Confucianism儒教(じゅきょう) and Taoism道教(どうきょう), but also Buddhism仏教(ぶっきょう), Manichaeism明教(めいきょう), Zoroastrianism祆教(けんきょう), Nestrians景教(けいきょう) became officially recognized religions, and allowed to do every kind of religious activities freely.

The fact that two of the five Tang’s official religions are Persian indicates how great the influence and the presence of Persia were.

Actually there were many Persian high rank officials in Tang dynasty. An-roku-zan* was such a general who is well known in Chinese history.

An-roku-zan安禄山 (705-757): He was a general of Tang dynasty. He is a Sogdian born in Samarkand. Roku-zan禄山 (“lu-shan” in Chinese pronunciation) is transcription of his Persian original name “Roshn (light)

2. Japanese Calendar

Tang’s calendar was imported to Japan and adopted in 737 and used until 1872. When the Meiji Restoration 明治維新(めいじいしん)started, the new government adopted Gregorian calendar in 1872 December 15th.

It was forbidden to use old Chinese calendar by the law. New Year’s Day (Nou-roz) was changed to 1st day of January according to the Gregorian calendar.

It is also forbidden to celebrate New Year’s Day according to the old calendar by the law. They set its start year on 660 B. C. which is the beginning day of Emperor Jimmu神武天皇’s reign (He is the legendary first emperor of Japan. He is Japanese Jamshid). 

This calendar system is called Kōki皇紀. Gregorian 2010 is Kōki 2670. The first day of a financial year became April 1st in 1877 by adopting English financial year. Ideally it should be Spring Equinox, for the convenience of Gregorian calendar it became April 1st. Spring Equinox (Shunbun), which is the day when people venerate their ancestors and pray for the harvest in the Shintō shrines, became the day of veneration of Emperor’s ansectors and pray for the harvest in 1878.

In early Meiji era, all the junior high schools, high schools, universities began on September according to Western tradition. But they changed its beginning day to April 8th (its financial year begins on April 1st). Thus government offices, agencies, schools and companies begin their year on April 1st (spiritually on Spring Equinox).

After the World War II, the Gregorian calendar became the sole official calendar in Japan. The Kōki calendar was forbidden to use in public by the law. If one print to sell Kōki calendar, he will be punished by the law. The financial year and the other traditions remain untouched except one thing. It is Shunki-Kōreisai春季皇霊祭.

Before the World War II, Spring Equinox Day is an official national holiday and called Shunki-Kōreisai. But after the World War II, it was forced to change its name to Shunbun-no-hi春分の日 by GHQ, and became a day to spend visiting family graves and holding family reunions.

Still Spring Equinox Day and April 1st are important days for official and financial activities in modern Japan.   Note Among Japanese Shinto-occult groups and right-wing activists and ideologues, the Kōki calendar is still used today.

3. The Starting Year of Calendar

In my opinion, the starting year of calendar should be the spiritual starting point of the people and their culture.  

Point 1 For Iranians and the world, their culture before hijrat is too precious to disregard.

Even after Islamization, Iranian culture is still living and giving great influence upon it.  

Point 2 In a long term view, Mohammedan culture is just a part of Iranian culture.  

Therefore people of Iran, whether he/she is Mohammedan, Simorghian or others, should seek their spiritual starting year in the ancient Iran which will release Iranian vast potentials. It seems to me Shah Jamshid the father of civilization is much attractive choice.     これからも、どうぞよろしくお願いいたします。

BEHROOZ o PIROOZ bashid. 敬具   東條真人

Dr. Masato Tojo