My husband and I are constantly debating who are cooler, pirates or ninjas. He argues for pirates while I favor ninjas. This is to be expected since I am half ninja…uh, I mean Asian. We recently found the answer to this eternal debate at the Internationales Maritimes Museum in Hamburg, Germany. Her name is Ching Yi Sao, and she was both pirate and ninja.
Ching Yi Sao, or Madam Ching, is featured in a small section on the museum’s fourth floor devoted to pirates. This is where I discovered this pirate-ninja and read about her amazing rise to supreme leader of the Red Flag Fleet, the most powerful pirate confederation in history. Initially, Madam Ching only commanded one of her husband’s six vessels. After his death, she quickly took over his remaining ships and began terrorizing the South China Sea and gaining new pirate followers. While legendary pirates, like Black Beard and Captain Kidd, normally lead single ships during their attacks, Madam Ching commanded a navy of over 1,000 vessels and had a following of 150,000 men and women. The Chinese imperial fleet was never able to defeat her, not even after joining forces with the British and Portuguese navies.
Most Successful Pirate Ever!
Other famous pirates either died in battle or were captured and executed. However, Madam Ching successfully retired from piracy and lived to a ripe old age of 69. Like a ninja, she gave a surprise visit to the Emperor and cunningly negotiated a pardon for her and her fellow pirates. She also was able to keep all of her treasure!
Madam Ching’s successes are not from her skills as a pirate alone, but also from the badass ninja qualities she possessed such as her stealth, speed, and intelligence. Therefore, we’ve decided that the pirate-ninja, is much cooler than either a pirate or ninja alone.
Internationales Maritimes Museum
You can learn more about other famous buccaneers at the Internationales Maritimes Museum. However, this museum has a lot more to offer besides pirate history. It has a total of ten floors devoted to all things relating to maritime life, nautical art, and the history of shipping; so you’re bound to find something to interest you. Some of my favorite exhibits are the
Even the museum’s building is a historic treasure. Built 1878 in a neo-gothic style, it is the oldest and best preserved warehouse in Hamburg. In 1890, the city of Hamburg purchased the building to store packaged goods there until 2003. A couple years later, the city spent 30 million euros to renovate the building’s interior. The former warehouse is now a modern and elegant museum.
Address: Koreastrasse 1
Opening Times: 10 am – 6 pm Tuesday to Sunday; closed on Mondays
Admission Prices: €14.50 (€9.00 with Hamburg Card)
Audio Guides: €3.50 (Not necessary since descriptions are also written in English)
Getting There: Take the U1 to the Meßberg station, or the U4 to the Überseequartier
More information: www.internationales-maritimes-museum.de
What is your opinion about pirates vs. ninjas? What do you think about Madam Ching? Leave a comment and share your views.