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  - Chinese Sailing Ship (c. 1400)
  • Kit Manufacturer: Amati
  • Major Material: Wood
  • Model Specifications: 1:100 Scale
  • Work Experience: This is a neat plank on bulkhead kit. Construction should be easy for experienced wooden ship model builders. The only problem that I found with this kit is that the photos of the finished model on the box do not agree with those in the instruction sheets in some details. As I can not find any picture of a real ship of this kind, I can't tell which ones are more accurate. Nevertheless, I finally decided to follow the instructions, and the results turned out not bad. It took me about 2 months to finish this model on the basis of 2 to 4 working hours per day.


Historical Notes: In the western world, this type of Chinese ship is generally known as a Chinese "Junk". However, in my opinion this is a rather prejudiced translation. According to my study, the Chinese word of this kind of ship is written as , pronounced as "Gorl", and which means a large ship sailing on rivers or lakes. The chinese word of river is written as , pronounced as "Jung". Therefore, this ship may be referred to as a "Jung-Gorl", or simply "Gorl", but by no means should it be called a "Junk". The multi-masts sailing ship was invented by the Chinese around 200 A.D.. During 1405 to 1433, the famous Chinese explorer, Cheng He, had made seven voyages to explore the western world. He had reached as far as the east coast of Africa and the Red Sea, and the time was 87 years earlier than Columbus's voyage (1492). Cheng's fleet consists of as many as 27,800 crews, including sailors, soldiers, and merchants. The fleet were made up by hundreds of sailing ships like this model, except even the smallest one was much larger. Several Chinese historical records, including the official Ming dynasty chronicle -MingShi, indicated that the largest ones (the Treasure Ships) were huge ships having nine masts, weighted 1500 tons, more than 120 meters (400 feet) in length*, and can carry over 1000 passengers. I have seen several fisherman's ship like this model in a small village at south Taiwan when I was a kid, but they are no longer exist. Nevertheless, you may still find these ships sailing on the rivers in Mainland China, and perhaps also can find some in Hong Kong.

* Recent archaeological finds and researches suggest somewhat much more conservative estimation of 40 to 55 meters in length.


More Pictures:   | Stem View |   | Port Side View |   | Aft Half Details |

Recommended References:

  1. Chinese Junks
  2. The Junks and Sampans of the Yangtze
  3. Sail and sweep in China: The history and development of the Chinese junk as illustrated by the collection of junk models in the Science Museum
  4. Fighting Ships of the Far East (1): China and Southeast Asia 202 BC-AD 1419
  5. When China Ruled the Seas : The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433
  6. 1421: The Year China Discovered America

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