Daoyi Zhilue (岛夷志略)

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Daoyi Zhilue 岛夷志略 (Description of the Barbarians of the Isles) was written by Yuan dynasty voyager Wang Dayuan 汪大渊 in 1349.

The book contains Wang’s personal accounts of the places he travelled to in the course of his 2 voyages between 1330 to 1339. His travels brought him to more than 100 places across South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa. Wang’s text gives us important information over a wide range of topics. It describes the weather, geography, people, products, and customs of the places he visited.

As the only extant record of the perceptions of a Chinese traveller in the 14th century, his work is invaluable. During the Ming period it formed the basis of many descriptions found in the official compilations such as Huanyu Tongzhi 寰宇通志 and Da Ming Yitong Zhi 大明一统志. It was also referenced widely in Fei Xin 费信’s Xingcha Shenglan 星槎胜览, a historical work that documents the places Fei Xin had seen during his voyages with Zheng He 郑和.

With a majority of the work devoted to Southeast Asia, it is one of the rare records documenting Singapore in those days. 3 places in Singapore were described in the book. Temasek 单马锡, which refers to the general area of Singapore and the nearby islands, was mentioned with no explicit detail. Longya Men 龙牙门, which means “Dragon’s Tooth Strait” in Chinese, probably refers to the waterway between what is now Sentosa island and Labrador Park. Banzu 班卒, which is named after the Malay word pancur (spring of water), is located on a hill behind Longya Men, and may be today’s Fort Canning Hill. Wang’s account of Singapore remains crucial to the re-construction of the early history of Singapore.

Singapore Map(Miksic, John N. Singapore and the silk road of the sea, 1300-1800. Singapore: NUS Press, 2013.  p. 173.)

 

References:

  • Miksic, John N. Singapore and the silk road of the sea, 1300-1800. Singapore: NUS Press, 2013
  • Miksic, John N., Low, Cheryl-Ann Mei Gek, ed. Early Singapore 1300s – 1819: evidence in maps, text and artefacts. Singapore: Singapore History Museum, 2004.
  • Kwee, Hui Kian. Dao yi zhi lue as a maritime traders’ guidebook: a contribution to the study of private enterprise in maritime trade during the Yuan period, 1279-1368. Academic exercise–Dept. of Southeast Asian Studies Programme, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, National University of Singapore, 1997.

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