By Athanasius Kircher, an encyclopedia of China, published in 1667, which combined accurate cartography with mythical elements, such as dragons. The work emphasized the Christian elements of Chinese history, both real and imagined.

You can see a map of China from this volume at Wikipedia.

4 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

An English translation of China Illustrata appearing as an "Appendix" in: Nieuhof, Johannes, 1618-1672
An embassy from the East-India Company of the United Provinces, to the Grand Tartar Cham, emperor of China: delivered by their excellencies Peter de Goyer and Jacob de Keyzer, at his imperial city of Peking wherein the cities, towns, villages, ports, rivers, &c. in their passages from Canton to Peking are ingeniously described by John Nieuhoff; also an epistle of Father John Adams, their antagonist, concerning the whole negotiation; with an appendix of several remarks taken out of Father Athanasius Kircher; Englished and set forth with their several sculptures by John Ogilby
Printed for the Author, 1673…

cum salis grano  •  Link

there is additional info on the ether.


Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

China Illustrata [can be explored page by page at "Beyond Ricci" Rare Books from the Jesuitica Collection at Boston College. The CI introduction begins: ]

Strictly speaking this work is formally known by its full Latin title:

Athanasii Kircheri e Soc. Jesu China monumentis : qua sacris quà profanis, nec non variis naturae & artis spectaculis, aliarumque rerum memorabilium argumentis illustrata auspiciis Leopoldi primi, Roman. Imper. semper Augusti, munificentissimi mecaenat. Alternatively it is also known by its shorter title China monumentis or by a variant China Illustrata.

Essentially, for the non-Latin reader, this meant that Athanasius Kircher (of the Society of Jesus) acted as a compiler, bringing together information on things both religious and secular, as well as concerning the various natural things of China (such as flora, fauna and landscape), in addition to anything else that might be of interest, such as exceptional handicrafts and so on. These items were accompanied by numerous illustrations.

As was the custom in those days, and indeed into the present, the work was dedicated to a patron, or a prospective patron, who is described in somewhat flowery language as a way of further prompting that person’s goodwill and support. A study of the works published by the Jesuits during this time would reveal the extent to which they nurtured and pan-European network of supporters and benefactors. In this instance the work was dedicated to “the August Roman Emperor Leopold I” (who reigned from 1657-1705), “a most generous (munificent) patron”.

Kircher never traveled to China but because he was based at the Jesuits’ College in Rome, where many China-based missionaries had trained and studied, he was well placed to compile the reports that they sent back to the Jesuits’ administrative offices in Rome.

The publication of this work reveals more than just those things Kircher chose to include about China (some of which was actually rather fanciful, as for instance ‘the flying cats of Kashgar’)....…

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.