Persian and Arab sailors were the first to venture into the open sea outside the view of the coast. As a result, they had to elaborate universal systems of navigation based on the positions of the stars. According to literary sources, Chinese pilots had sailed into the open sea on their way to the Malay Peninsula by the 7th century. By the 15th century, they used similar navigation systems to their Persian and Arab predecessors. An Arab navigator guided Vasco da Gama from Kenya to India in a journey which lasted only twenty-two days, and he showed him nautical instruments of Arab invention, for instance the kamâl (perfection). A disputed Arab source has suggested that the pilot might have been Ibn Majid, but this affirmation remains questionable.

Related Information

  • Route:
    Maritime
    Authors:
    François Bellec
    Era:
    7th century CE to 19th century CE
    Language of article:
    French
    Source:

    UNESCO Maritime Silk Roads Expedition, Madras Conference “India and the Roman world between 1st and 4th Century A.D.”, “India’s Cultural Relationship with East and Southeast Asia during the 4th to 13th Century A.D.”. 19-24 December 1990. Madras, India.

    Format:
    PDF
    Countries:
    China, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kenya, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Viet Nam, Yemen