THE FIRST ACCOUNTS OF THE FAR EAST THAT REACHED EUROPE

Nuovi avisi dell’ Indie di Portogallo.

Venice, Michele Tramezzino, 1568.

£7,500

8vo., ff. (iv) 59 lacking final blank. Italic letter, printer’s sibyl device on title, woodcut initials. Couple of neat early annotations in blank portion of title, small worm trail at some inner margins not affecting text, a very good clean copy in modern vellum.

Second edition of this rare, early valuable collection of nine letters from the Jesuit missions in Asia written by Diaz, Froes and others between the years 1556 and 1559 and dedicated by the printer-publisher to Vittoria Farnese dalla Rovere, Duchess of Urbino. The letters include some of the earliest first-hand accounts of China and Japan to reach Western Europe. The first provides a description of Ceylon, the Moluccas and the East Indies, the third tells of events in Goa and Indo-China, the fourth deals with the Moslems, the fifth with Malabar and Cochin, the sixth with China and Japan and the seventh with Travancore. The second and last two comprise only brief extracts of longer works.

In almost every case the first reliable accounts of the Far East which reached Europe were letters from the Jesuit missionaries full of first hand information: social, cultural, political, ethnographic, commercial, geographical, economic and religious. It was the detail and apparent accuracy of their scholarly yet practical reports which prompted merchants, seamen and governments to follow them in opening up to European interests the farthest corners of the known world.

BM. STC. It. p. 349. Adams I 109 (1 copy only). JFB J 82 (1st ed.). Cordier (Jap) p.47. Not in Cordier Bibl. Sinica.

SN1166

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