In 1421, the
year when the Great Wall was finished, China sent out a fleet of
more than one hundred ships to discover the world.
Reports say they crossed the Indian Ocean from Calicut
to the African East Coast - what was not new for Arabo-Swahili,
Indian and Chinese captains in the Middle Ages.
They rounded the Cape of Good
Hope and went North following the African West Coast.
Then (as always when discoverers come to Cape Verde) a
serious storm took them to the arquipelago, presumably to Santo
And here - as in other places they visited - they left behind "carved
stones" (crioulo: rocha scribida) in order to give proof for
their presence to later generations of discoverors.
So far the fascinating story
told by Gavin Menzies in his book 1421 The Year
China Discovered the World. He diagnoses the writings on this
rocha scribida as Malayalam, the language spoken
to date in Kerala, southern India - and iits
harbour city of Calicut, where the fleet has started.
Later Menzies follows the fleet to Greenland, the
North Pole (he claims), the Americas, the
Magellan streight before it crossed the pacific ocean and
found back home to China.
Some of the
stories are astonishingly alike
what was told for ages around the Atlantik - before Columbus set sails in 1492.
The name Pedra da Nossa Senhora stems from catholic
interpretations of the writings as a first document of Portuguese
sailors setting foot on Santo Antao Island. The central part
with the cross documents the death of a portuguese sailor.
You find the stone in
the valley of Ribeira de Penede, some 300 m river up
from what was a football field before the last rains.
Go to Pontinha de
Janela, and ask local people. There is nobody who does not
know it. And have a look at our map of Santo Antao.