Giraffes in a Coal Mine
The appearance of giraffes sparked different--and very revealing--reactions in Europe and China.
The source: “Audience for a Giraffe: European Expansionism and the Quest for the Exotic” by Erik Ringmar, in Journal of World History, Dec. 2006.
In the 15th century, when Europeans were creeping down the west coast of Africa in tiny ships in search of spices and gold, China’s great eunuch admiral Zheng He had already visited Africa’s east coast in ships five times as large. Before Columbus set out with 88 sailors on the voyage during which he would dis...