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By Lindsay Ride

The stones, statues and memorials stumbled on all over the place Macao hint the tale from the times of the 1st Portuguese navigators to arrive China within the 16th century to the occasions of newer times.

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The Voices of Macao Stones

The stones, statues and memorials chanced on far and wide Macao hint the tale from the times of the 1st Portuguese navigators to arrive China within the 16th century to the occasions of newer occasions.

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After rounding the Cape of Good Hope, Vasco da Gama led his ships north, visiting a number of East African ports on the way. He was in Quilimane in January 1498, Mozambique in March, and then continued north as far as Mombasa and Malindi. At this latter place, he stopped to take stock of the situation and from the information gathered concerning Indian Ocean trade, he decided to go straight to its centre — to Calicut on the Indian Malabar coast. This was a stroke of genius; many a lesser man would have searched the Indian Ocean for a port from which to challenge Calicut.

But there was one basic reason which underlay the general plan of attempting to establish Portuguese trade with China: it was Portugal’s reply to the challenge of Marco Polo overland route, which he had blazed from Venice to Cathay, after the final failure of the Crusades to establish a safe land route from the Levantine ports on the Mediterranean Sea to those on the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Polo’s route brought little material advantage to the people of the Iberian peninsula who were too far to the west of the Venetian terminal market to benefit from it, so, if Spain and Portugal were to share in the riches of the orient, it had to be by other than the established overland routes.

T H E TEMPLE OF M A - K O K - M I U mmm) THIS TEMPLE IS the building with which consideration of Macao's history should begin, both from the point of view of age and from the fact that it was from it that Macao derived its name. The early boat people of south China, like most seafolk the world over, were highly religious, and invariably burned incense and made thank-offerings to their sea-goddess on their safe return from a successful venture afloat, or for their delivery from the dangers of any particularly perilous part of it.

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