A page from Ming dynasty woodcut printed edition of Yingyai Shenglan by Ma Huan
Ma Huan (
simplified Chinese: 马欢;
traditional Chinese: 馬歡;
pinyin: Mǎ Huān,
Xiao'erjing: ﻣَﺎ ﺧُﻮًا) (c. 1380–1460
), courtesy name Zongdao (
pinyin: Zōngdào), pen name Mountain-woodcutter (會稽山樵), was a
Chinese voyager and translator who accompanied Admiral
Zheng He on three of his
seven expeditions to the Western Oceans. Ma was a
Muslim and was born in
Kuaiji Commandery, an area within the modern borders of
Shaoxing. It was said he was not born Muslim, but was a Chinese who converted to Islam when he was young, and his "Ma" surname (common amongst Chinese Muslims) had nothing to do with Muslim ancestry. He knew several Classical Chinese and Buddhist texts. He learned Arabic to be able to translate.
In the 1413 expedition (the 4th), he visited
In the 1421 expedition, he visited
Zufar and Hormuz.
In the 1431 expedition, he visited
Gaur and Calicut. From Calicut, he was sent by Eununch
Hong Bao as emissary to
During his expeditions, Ma Huan took notes about the geography, politics, weather conditions, environment, economy, local customs, even method of punishment for criminals. Returned home on his first expedition, he began writing a book about his expedition, the first draft of which was ready around 1416. He expanded and modified his draft during later expeditions, the final version was ready around 1451. The title of his book was
Yingyai Shenglan (The Overall Survey of the Ocean's Shores).
Ming dynasty and
Qing dynasty, there were many printed and handcopied editions. The latest authentic text of a printed version was edited and annotated by historian
Feng Chengjun . A newer edition, based on Ming dynasty handcopied editions, was recently published by Ocean Publishing House in China.
An annotated English translation by
J.V.G. Mills (1887–1987) was published by the
Hakluyt Society in 1970,
 and reprinted in 1997 by The White Lotus Press in Bangkok. Mills's translation was based on the edition by Feng Cheng jun.
The Yingyai Shenglan is considered by sinologists worldwide as a primary source for the history of Ming dynasty naval exploration, history of
South East Asia and
history of India.
Some scholars who have done research work on Ma Huan are J.J.L. Duyvendak, F. Hirth,