The Maritime Heritage Project

World Harbors from The Maritime Heritage Project in San Francisco.

Seaports of the World




China: Pagoda Island

° Amoy ° Guangzhou ° Fuzhou, Pagoda Island ° Canton
° Henan Province: Shaolin (Kung Fu), The Jews of Kaifeng
° Hong Kong ° Macau ° Peking (Bejing) ° Shanghai ° Tientsin ° Whampoa
° Yangzhou ° Pirates in the China Seas ° The Great Wall ° Mahjong

Fifteen minutes east of Fuzhou lies Mawei, cradle of Chinese seamanship, and site of the famous Pagoda Anchorage. Chinese named giant rocks, “Double Turtle Guarding Door,” “Five Tigers Defending Gate,” and “Warriors Leg.” Sailors from Fuzhou were trading overseas before most of China knew that seas existed . . . and city was an international trading port by year 618 AD.

After opening Canton consulate in July 1843, George Tradescant Lay arrived in Fuzhou in July 1844. He was forced off his ship at Pagoda Island and made to go up river in a small boat. Fuzhou authorities allocated him a house built of boards, over the river, which flooded twice a day.

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Fuzhou

Between Pagoda Anchorage and the sea, Min surged through a narrow gorge that was so tight that old salts claimed monkeys jumping from one side to or got tails caught in rigging; these were tall tales but many a ship, like Oriental in 1853 and Vision in 1857, sank in mighty Min. No one took Min for granted—especially the Chinese, who were among the greatest ocean-going adventurers of our ancient world.

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Pagoda Anchorage II
Montague Dawson

In 1859, Sea Serpent loaded for tea at Pagoda Island. . . her time from crossing bar of Min River to London was only 130 days—during height of adverse monsoon. She beat all clippers who anchored alongside her.

In 1866, Foochow became the starting point of Great Tea Race . . . 16 clippers were loaded tea at Pagoda Anchorage. In late May and early June, they began their race across 16,000 miles of open ocean to London Docks, arriving 99 days later.

The Taeping reached Gravesend first, followed by Ariel and Serica.

1869: There are few scenes that linger in my memory more vividly than the Pagoda Anchorage in Foochow River a day or two after the "new teas" market had opened, when the first flight of clippers was getting ready for sea.

The "opening of market" was a feature peculiar to Foochow tea trade. In city of Foochow, stocks of first pickings from teagardens in the interior had accumulated since early in May, but Chinese merchants were slow in making up their minds to sell at prices acceptable to foreign buyers.

It was perhaps known from the outset that certain foreign "hongs" — that is, mercantile houses — would eventually purchase particular "chops" of tea. A "chop" was a number of boxes of the same make and quality of leaf, variable as to weight, but usually a product of one particular garden. "Chops" bearing a well-known name were bought year after year by the same foreign merchants, yet, even so, weeks were often spent in haggling. The price was slowly and reluctantly lowered by the Chinese merchant . . . When it had been reduced sufficiently, some of more important firms were tempted to close. Then the hurry began.

As soon as it became known that Jardine's or some other well-known English firm had opened the market, all merchants began to buy their favourite "chops" at proportionate prices.

Speed was the order of day. Forty-eight hours or so were required to weigh and label tea-chests, then each "hong" made all haste to load them into lighters which waited to convey the fragrant leaf for Foochow to Pagoda Anchorage, a distance of about twelve miles . . .

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Chinese workers loading Tea onto a Clipper
for transport to England
Angus McBride

Generally some three or four clippers with good records were chosen as "going ships," and combinations of shippers would concentrate on filling these . . . it was a keen contest; yet it was not always the ship considered fastest which got away first. Much depended on tonnage of the vessel and status and influence of the agents concerned . . .

It would usually happen that a dozen or more clippers would be lying ready, with holds swept and garnished, for two or three weeks perhaps . . . then one day, or one night as likely as not, immediately after the opening of market, watchmen on the waiting ships would be kept on qui vive by hearing blowing of many conch shells and a distant din on river . . . as the first "tea chops" came down. The men on board vessels kept up insistent sing-song calls, which represented, in Chinese tongue, inquiries as to where they should anchor to be near the particular vessel for which their cargo was designed.

The method in vogue was to chant in a long drawn-out wail Chinese name of the "hong" which owned tea. Thus Jardine Mathieson's employees would wail out: "Ee-wo! Ee-wo!"; those in Turner and Company would snap back a discordant "Wha-kee! Wha-kee!" . . .

The finest display of clippers that I ever remember seeing waiting for market to open was in 1869. In that year, no less than fifteen of these beauties, more like yachts than merchantmen, lay moored off Pagoda, with holds ready, ballast levelled, ground chop stowed, waiting for new teas. I do not suppose that in any port in the world one could have seen such a fleet of beautiful craft as were assembled in the River Min on that occasion.

Among them were Thermopyle, Leander, Windhover and Kaisow, all on their first trip; Spindrift and Lahloo on their second; the proven and noted flyers Sir Lancelot, Ariel, Taeping, and Serica; as well as somewhat older but still handsome vessels Black Prince, Falcon, Min, Flying Spur and little Ziba. . .

Fine reprints of images of China and the clipperships are available by clicking on the image.
Ariel and Taeping
Montague Dawson
(Quality Giclee prints are available by clicking on image.)

Montague Dawson was the son of a yachtsman and the grandson of the marine painter Henry Dawson (1811–1878). Dawson was born in Chiswick, London in 1895. For a brief period around 1910 Dawson worked for a commercial art studio in Bedford Row, London, but with the outbreak of the First World War he joined the Royal Navy. Whilst serving with the Navy in Falmouth he met Charles Napier Hemy (1841–1917), who influenced his work. His paintings are featured in the Royal Naval Museum and the National Maritime Museum. After the War, Dawson established himself as a professional marine artist, concentrating on historical subjects and portraits of deep-water sailing ships often in stiff breeze or on high seas.

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The Tall Ship 'Clipper Kaisow'
Montague Dawson

Thus it went at Foochow, and Foochow in sixties was the premier port for shipment of teas. Though it had been opened to foreign trade as far back as 1842, for a number of years afterwards Canton, or Whampoa, was the more important place. "Orange" and "Flowery Pekoe," "Scented Capers" and or choice teas were those for which this port was famous.

Andrew Shewan
Great Days of Sail

Part of the trials and tribulations of these ports were pirates . . . each year several cases of piracy -- attempted or accomplished -- were recorded. There were thieves among the seafaring population all along China coast, but reportedly none were as bloodthirsty as Cantonese and their neighbors.

By 1871 newer steamships began to replace these great ships. Tea Clippers were vital to tea trade until the opening of Suez Canal in 1869 and were in operation until the end of 1880's.

Quality reprints can be ordered by clicking on the image.

The Thermopylae leaving Foochow
Montague Dawson

On a Saturday morning in August 1884, the French destroyed the Chinese fleet in about half an hour. The French commander had warned foreign consulates and the Chinese day before, but international law required at least 30 days notice. The French refused China’s request for one more day to prepare, they attacked, and seven hundred Chinese seamen went to a mass grave beside Memorial Hall of Majiang River Naval Battle.

Pagoda Anchorage
Pagoda Anchorage
Montague Dawson

Explore World Heritage Sites


Danjiangkoui City, Hubei Province, China
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Fine reprints of images of China are available by clicking on the image.
Spindrift preparing To Leave Foochow.
Montague Dawson


Recommended Reading

If you cannot find your preferred books locally, please consider

Or consider the links provided to Amazon.com or AbeBooks
both of which have proven to be reliable on service and delivery.

Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800The Silk Road of the Sea.
John N. Miksic
The Silk Road of the Sea.This book synthesizes 25 years of archaeological research to reconstruct the 14th-century port of Singapore in great detail. The picture that emerges is of a port where people processed raw materials, used money, and had specialized occupations. Within its defensive wall, the city was well organized and prosperous, with a cosmopolitan population that included residents from China, other parts of Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean. Fully illustrated, with more than 300 maps and color photos, 'Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea' presents Singapore's history in the context of Asia's long-distance maritime trade in the years between 1300 and 1800. The author is Associate Professor, Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, and Head of the NSC Archaeology Unit, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Religions of the Silk Road: Premodern Patterns of GlobalizationThe Silk Road.
Richard Foltz
Drawing on the latest research and scholarship, this newly revised and updated edition of Religions of the Silk Road explores the majestically fabled cities and exotic peoples that make up the romantic notions of the colonial era while examining how cultural traditions also travelled to the people encounted on the Silk Road. The author, Richard Foltz (b.1961), is a cultural historian specializing in the Iranian world. He has also worked as a musician, film critic, and travel writer. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and has taught at Brown, Columbia, and the University of Florida. His work has appeared in over a dozen languages."This brief but tightly packed book is a wonderful counterweight to romanticized notions of the so-called Silk Road . . . Foltz masterfully deals with disparate histories from one point of the compass to its seeming opposite, while weaving a wonderfully lucid story of merchants, pilgrims, and missionaries." -- The Journal of Asian History

When America First Met China
An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail

Eric Jay Dolin
Ancient China collides with America in this epic tale of opium smugglers, sea pirates, and dueling clipper ships. Brilliantly illuminating one of the least-understood areas of American history, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin traces our fraught relationship with China back to its roots: the unforgiving nineteenth-century seas that separated a brash, rising naval power from a ancient empire. It is a prescient fable for our time, one that surprisingly continues to shed light on our modern relationship with China. Indeed, the furious trade in furs, opium, and bêche-de-mer -- a rare sea cucumber delicacy -- might have catalyzed America's emerging economy, but it also sparked an ecological and human rights catastrophe. Peopled with fascinating characters--from Robert Morris: Financier of the American RevolutionRobert Morris, Financier of the American Revolution. to the The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong: Splendors of China's Forbidden City, who considered foreigners inferior beings--this saga of pirates and politicians, coolies and concubines becomes a must-read for any fan of Nathaniel Philbrick's MayflowerMayflower. or Mark Kurlansky's Cod.Cod, the fish that changd the world. Two maps, and 16 pages of color and 83 black-and-white illustrations.

Latin America, World Journeys, Discovery.
The Explorer's Eye:First-Hand Accounts of Adventure and ExplorationLatin America, World Journeys, Discovery.
Fergus Fleming, Annabel Merullo, Michael Palin
In the eighteenth century, exploration entered a new phase; many more explorers were motivated by scientific inquiry rather than greed. Their job was to open new lands, but also to investigate the globe's mysteries. They were expected to make a full record of everything they encountered, and include pictures as well as words. Combining firsthand accounts with original images, The Explorer's Eye gives insight into who these people were, how they operated, and, above all, what they saw. Here you have Alexander von Humboldt braving the electric eels of South Africa, Robert Peary explaining the rigors of polar travel (and his wife giving her own slant), Umberto Nobile lamenting the loss of his Zeppelin in an ice floe, Jacques Cousteau examining the planet from under the waves . . .

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Recommended Reading

Note: If you are unable to find the books suggested at your local bookstore, consider links provided to Amazon.com or AbeBooks, both of which have proven to be reliable
on service and delivery

The Silk Road is a historically important international trade route between China and the Mediterranean. Because silk comprised a large proportion of trade along this road, in 1877, it was named 'the Silk Road' by Ferdinand von Richthofen, an eminent German geographer. From the time Zhang Qian opened up the world-famous Silk Road during the Han Dynasty, until the collapse of the Yuan Dynasty, it enjoyed a history of about 1,600 years.


Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800The Silk Road of the Sea.
John N. Miksic
The Silk Road of the Sea.This book synthesizes 25 years of archaeological research to reconstruct the 14th-century port of Singapore in great detail. The picture that emerges is of a port where people processed raw materials, used money, and had specialized occupations. Within its defensive wall, the city was well organized and prosperous, with a cosmopolitan population that included residents from China, other parts of Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean. Fully illustrated, with more than 300 maps and color photos, 'Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea' presents Singapore's history in the context of Asia's long-distance maritime trade in the years between 1300 and 1800. The author is Associate Professor, Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, and Head of the NSC Archaeology Unit, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

China.
Dragon Lady: The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of ChinaThe Last Empress of China.
Sterling Seagrave

China and India.
The Dragon and the Wild Goose: China and India
(New Epilogue
China and India.)
Jay Taylor

China.
1421:
The Year China Discovered America

Gavin Menzies
On March 8, 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen set sail from China to "proceed all the way to the ends of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas." When the fleet returned home in October 1423, the emperor had fallen, leaving China in political and economic chaos. The great ships were left to rot at their moorings and the records of their journeys were destroyed. Lost in the long, self-imposed isolation that followed was the knowledge that Chinese ships had reached America seventy years before Columbus and had circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan. And they colonized America before the Europeans, transplanting the principal economic crops that have since fed and clothed the world.

A Cruise in Chinese Waters: Being the Log of "The Fortuna." (c 1882) Augustus F. Lindley
From Cornell University
Library Print Collections

China.
When China Ruled the Seas:
The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433
China.
Louise Levathes
A hundred years before Columbus and his fellow Europeans began making their way to the New World, fleets of giant Chinese junks commanded by the eunuch admiral Zheng He and filled with the empire's finest porcelains, lacquerware, and silk ventured to the edge of the world's "four corners." It was a time of exploration and conquest, but it ended in a retrenchment so complete that less than a century later, it was a crime to go to sea in a multimasted ship.

China.
Khubilai Khan's Lost Fleet
In Search of a Legendary Armada
China.
James P., Delgado
In 1279, near what is now Hong Kong, Mongol ruler Khubilai Khan fulfilled the dream of his grandfather, Genghis Khan, by conquering China. The Grand Khan now ruled the largest empire the world has ever seen—one that stretched from the China Sea to the plains of Hungary. He also inherited the world's largest navy—more than seven hundred ships. Yet within fifteen years, Khubilai Khan's massive fleet was gone. What actually happened to the Mongol navy, considered for seven centuries to be little more than legend, has finally been revealed. Renowned archaeologist and historian James P. Delgado has gone diving with a Japanese team currently studying the remains of the Khan's lost fleet. Delgado pieces together the fascinating tale of Khubilai Khan's maritime forays and unravels one of history's greatest mysteries: What sank the great Mongol fleet?

Drugging a Nation:
The Story of China and the Opium Curse
(Classic Reprint)
China.
Samuel Merwin

Opium Wars in China.
Opium WarsOpium Wars in China.
W. Travis Hanes
The story of the Opium Wars provides an exploration of addiction and the tragedy that can result when cultures collide. In the 19th century, Chinese society was crippled by a vast addiction to opium, which was largely supplied by British traders. For years, British and Chinese governments clashed over Britain's right to trade in China and to be treated as equals by the Chinese officials. When China tried to close its ports to opium, the British fought back, starting two of the most bizarre wars in history. Featuring astonishingly mismatched battles in which the technological might of the British steamships and artillery decimated the medieval sailing junks and arrows of the Chinese, these wars depict a painful clash in history between East and West. "The Opium Wars" presents a history that evokes the political and moral struggles of the people involved in the wars that devastated an empire and have continued to poison the ties between China and the West.

Chinese Maritime Activities and Socioeconomic Development, c. 2100 B.C. - 1900 A.D.
(Contributions in Economics and Economic History)
China.
Opium WarsChina.

Chinese Sailed to America Before Columbus: More Secrets from the Dr. Hendon M. Harris, Jr. Map CollectionChina.

China.
Silk and Religion
An Exploration of Material Life and the Thought of People, AD 600-1200

(Oxford India Paperbacks)
China.
Xinru Liu

China.
A Century of Travels in ChinaChina.
Douglas Kerr, Julia Kuehn, Editors
Hong Kong University Press

Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
China: The World's Oldest Living Civilization Revealed.Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
Thames & Hudson Publishers
China's recorded history dates back more than 3,500 years. "China" examines the turbulent history of this immense nation, including the inventiveness of the Bronze Age society, the Barbarian invasions, the conquest by Genghis Khan, the rise and fall of the dynasties, and the Opium Wars. It takes in the architecture of the emperors; the magnificent buildings of the Forbidden City; the imperial tombs, and the mysterious entombed warriors

China.
A Borrowed Place:
The History of Hong Kong
China.
Frank Welsh
The tumultuous history of Britain's last major colony. In 1842 a "barren island" was reluctantly ceded by China to an unenthusiastic Britain. "Hong Kong", grumbled Palmerston, "will never be a mart of trade". But from the outset the new colony prospered, its early growth owing much to the energy and resourcefulness of opium traders, who soon diversified in more respectable directions. In 1859 the Kowloon Peninsula was sold to Britain, and in 1898 a further area of the mainland, the "New Territories", was leased to Britain for 99 years.

The Man Who Loved China.
The Man Who Loved China:
The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom
The Man Who Loved China.Simon Winchester

China.
An Empire of Plants: People and Plants That Changed the WorldChina.

Toby Musgrave, Will Musgrave
Illustrated.
Stories of seven plants - tea, tobacco, sugar, opium, quinine, cotton and rubber - whose discovery and cultivation changed the destinies of countries from America to China, India to Brazil. It investigates the complex legacy of trade routes overseas, the engine and imperative for colonial expansion, and shows how great fortunes were built upon a dark history of espionage, slavery, danger and conflict.

China and Maritime Europe

1500-1800: Trade, Settlement, Diplomacy, and MissionsChina.
China and Maritime Europe.China.
A view of China in some of its most complicated and intriguing relations with a world of increasing global interconnection. New World silver, Chinese tea, Jesuit astronomers at the Chinese court, and merchants and marauders of all kinds play important roles here. A full and clear summary, based on sources in Chinese and in European languages, making this information accessible to students and scholars interested in the growing connections among continents and civilizations in the early modern period.

China.
When America First Met China:
An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail
China.
Eric Jay Dolin
Ancient China collides with America in this epic tale of opium smugglers, sea pirates, and dueling clipper ships. Brilliantly illuminating one of the least-understood areas of American history, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin now traces our fraught relationship with China back to its roots: the unforgiving nineteenth-century seas that separated a brash, rising naval power from a ancient empire. It is a prescient fable for our time, one that surprisingly continues to shed light on our modern relationship with China. Indeed, the furious trade in furs, opium, and bêche-de-mer--a rare sea cucumber delicacy--might have catalyzed America's emerging economy, but it also sparked an ecological and human rights catastrophe. Peopled with fascinating characters--from the "Financier of the Revolution" Robert Morris to the Chinese emperor Qianlong, who considered foreigners inferior beings--this saga of pirates and politicians, coolies and concubines becomes a must-read for any fan of Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower or Mark Kurlansky's Cod. Two maps, and 16 pages of color and 83 black-and-white illustrations.

Historical Fiction

The Dream of the Red Chamber Chinese Literature.China.
Dream Of The Red Chamber
Hung Lou Meng: Book I
China.
Cao Xeugin
Translated by H. Bencraft Joly
First appearing 1791, it is a masterpiece of Chinese literature and one of China's Four Great classical novels. It was composed during the Qing Dynasty and is generally acknowledged to be a pinnacle of Chinese fiction. The novel is believed to be semi-autobiographical, mirroring the rise and decay of author's own family and, by extension, of the Qing Dynasty. It is intended to be a memorial to the women the author knew in his youth - friends, relatives and servants. At the center of the story is Bao-yu, a precocious boy and his romantic affinity to his poetry-loving, orphaned cousin, Dai-yu. The novel is remarkable not only for its huge cast of characters and psychological scope, but also for its precise and detailed observation of the life and social structures typical of 18th-century Chinese aristocracy.

The Honored Dead by Robert N. Macomber.
The Honored Dead China.
Robert N. Macomber
Seventh in the award-winning Honor Series. Lt. Cmdr. Peter Wake, in French Indochina in 1883, meets up with opium warlords, Chinese-Malay pirates, and French gangsters. Perfect for armchair historians and adventurers. It has been compared to the best historical sea fiction ever written by Patrick O'Brian and C.S. Forester as well as the historical fiction of Bernard Cornwell.

China.
Pearl S. Buck and Stories of ChinaChina.

The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World.
The Sea and Civilization:
A Maritime History of the World
The Sea and Civilization.

Lincoln Paine

David Barrie Sextant.
Sextant:
A Young Man's Daring Sea Voyage and the Men Who Mapped the World's Oceans
Sextant.
David Barrie

First Migrants, Peter Bellwood.
First Migrants:
Ancient Migration in Global Perspective
First Migrants.
Peter Bellwood

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