Portuguese Empire ISBN (identifier) Pearl River Delta


Trade settlement
Flag of Tamão
CountryPortuguese Empire
Founded byJorge Álvares
Traditional Chinese屯門
Simplified Chinese屯门
Hanyu PinyinTún Mén
Pha̍k-fa-sṳThûn mùn
Yale RomanizationTyùhn mùhn
JyutpingTyun4 mun4
Tunmen Inlet
Traditional Chinese屯門澳
Simplified Chinese屯门澳
Hanyu PinyinTún Mén Ào
Pha̍k-fa-sṳThûn mùn àu
Yale RomanizationTyùhn mùhn ou
JyutpingTyun4 mun4 ou3

Tamão was a trade settlement set up by the Portuguese on an island in the Pearl River Delta, China. This was the first time Europeans reached China via the sea route around the Cape of Good Hope.[1] The settlement lasted from 1514 to 1521, when the Portuguese were expelled by the Ming dynasty navy.[2]


In May 1513, the Portuguese explorer Jorge Álvares arrived on the Chinese coast at an island in the Pearl River Delta, which they called "Tamão", which is understood to be a corruption of "Tunmen" (屯門), the name for the western Hong Kong and Shenzhen area.[3] Chinese sources state that the Portuguese settled around the Tunmen Inlet (屯門澳), but the current whereabouts of the Tunmen Inlet is unknown, so the precise location of the Portuguese settlement remains a matter of debate among historians.

Rendered in Chinese, the name is identical to the Tuen Mun district in present-day Hong Kong. This leads some researchers to link the Tunmen of Ming times to Tuen Mun in the New Territories of Hong Kong. "Tunmen Inlet" would then refer to one of two bays around Tuen Mun: Castle Peak Bay, next to the current Tuen Mun New Town; or Deep Bay between the New Territories and Nantou in present-day Shenzhen, where a Ming coastal defense force was stationed.[4]

Adding to the confusion is the description in Portuguese sources that Tamão was an island. As Tuen Mun is not an island, researchers have proposed that Tamão may actually refer to one of the nearby islands. Nei Lingding Island has been identified by J. M. Braga to be the Tamão of the Portuguese sources, and is widely followed by Western scholarship; however, recent Chinese scholarship has argued that this identification is insufficiently supported by historical evidence, and suggests a number of other potential islands, such as the nearby, but larger, Lantau Island.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Construction of Lung Kwu Chau Jetty – Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment
  2. ^ Porter, Jonathan (1996). Macau, the Imaginary City: Culture and Society, 1557 to the Present. Westview Press. ISBN 0813328365.
  3. ^ Braga, J. M. (1956). "China Landfall 1513, Jorge Alvares Voyage to China". Macau: Imprensa Nacional. OCLC 10673337. Cite journal requires |journal= (help).
  4. ^ Lau, Chi-pang; Liu, Shuyong (2012). 屯門: 香港地區史研究之四 [History of Tuen Mun] (in Chinese). Hong Kong: Joint Publishing. p. 35. ISBN 9789620431470.
  5. ^ Jin, Guoping (2000). Xili dongjian : Zhong-Pu zaoqi jiechu zhuixi 西力東漸 : 中葡早期接觸追昔 (PDF) (in Chinese). Macau: Macao Foundation. pp. 21–42. ISBN 9993710075.