THROUGH THE EYES OF MISSIONARIES: CAMBODIA, HAINAN, JAPAN, LAOS, MACAU, THAILAND, AND VIETNAM

Relatione della provincia del Giappone.

Rome, Andrea Fei, 1645.

£4,950

FIRST EDITION. 8vo., pp. (16), 160. Predominantly Roman letter, a little Italic; a couple of historiated initials and typographical tail-pieces, Jesuit device on title; pen line to title and tiny wormholes not affecting text, a few leaves a bit aged browned, occasional foxing, mainly marginal. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, remains of original ties; on front pastedown, ex libris labels of Pietro Buoninsegni, dated Siena 1814, and of Frédéric and Anne Max; extensive purchase note on final verso by Bellisario Bulgarini the Younger, dated 9 March 1645.

First uncommon edition of an early account of the Jesuit mission in Japan, established by St. Francis Xavier in the mid-sixteenth century, and other Christian outposts in Southern Asia. The original Portuguese text was never printed, while this Italian translation was probably accomplished by the Jesuit Giacomo Diacetto. A rare and partial French version was published the following year.

António Francisco Cardim (1596-1659) was a leading Jesuit missionary in the Far East, spending many years converting locals and organising Christian communities in the ancient kingdoms of Ayutthaya, Lan Xang and Tonkin. Back in Rome and later in Portugal, he supervised the large ecclesiastical province of Japan, which included also Macau and the Siamese area, and wrote several works related to those regions; most famously, he thoroughly recorded the persecutions of the Japanese Christians from 1597 to 1640 and published one of the earliest detailed map of Japan. His Relatione, dedicated to Pope Innocent X, narrates the troubled life of the Jesuit Company in Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, as well as Macau and the island of Hainan, dwelling from time to time on interesting linguistic problems in transposing Christian dogmas into the Oriental languages and cultures.

This copy was bought by Bellisario Bulgarini (died 1660), nephew of the renowned bibliophile and scholar of Siena Bellisario Bulgarini (1539-1620). Bellisario the Younger records in the inscription at the end of the book that he acquired the volume for one lira from the bookseller Filippo Succhielli. He contributed to the enlargement of the vast family library, on which see Cento anni di libri: la Biblioteca di Bellisario Bulgarini e della sua famiglia, circa 1560-1660 (esp. no. 257bis) and Dennis E. Rhodes, ‘Per la biblioteca di Belisario Bulgarini e per la storia del mercato librario in Siena lui vivente (1539-1620)’, in Studi bibliografici: atti del Convegno dedicato alla storia del libro italiano nel V centenario dell’introduzione dell’arte tipografica in Italia, Bolzano, 7-8 ottobre 1965, Florence 1967, pp. 159-168.

Rare. Only two copies recorded in the US (Harvard and Chicago).

Not in Brunet, Graesse or JFB. BM STC It. 17th, 456; Sommervogel, II, 739/2 and III, 36/2; Cordier, 359.

L1980

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