TRIGAULT, Nicolas De Christiana expeditione

Lyon, Horatius Cardon, 1616


4to. pp. (xvi) 628 (xii), fold-out plan and index. Roman letter with Italic. Charming engraved architectural t-p with standing figures of Francis Xavier and Matteo Ricci, cherubs, stemma of the Society of Jesus, and map of China; decorated head- and tailpieces with foliage, satyrs, fleurs-de-lis and arabesques; decorated initials; fold-out plan with key of Jesuit residence in Peking; marbled fore-edges in red and blue. A few gatherings lightly browned, intermittent faint water stain to outer lower corner, occasional ink marks, the odd slight marginal foxing, small marginal loss to one fol. A very good, crisp, well-margined copy in contemporary vellum, lightly rubbed. ‘1400’ and ‘RC Jenkins, Lyminge Feb 25 1887’ on front pastedown, ‘usc £15’ on rear pastedown.

A good, crisp copy of the second edition of Nicolas Trigault’s influential Latin translation of Matteo Ricci SJ. Trigault (1577-1628) was a Flemish Jesuit who carried out ground-breaking missionary work in China in the early C17. Inspired by the activities of Ricci, Trigault founded new missions and encouraged the translation of European works on science and religion into Chinese. Between 1614 and 1618, Trigault was in Europe to report to Pope Paul V about the Chinese missions and to promote the Jesuits’ work in China. Whilst in Europe, he edited and translated from Italian into Latin Matteo Ricci’s missionary journal, first published in 1615 and reprinted numerous times. Ricci (1552-1610) spent over twenty years in China, where he travelled extensively, founded several missions and supervised the construction of a Catholic church in Peking, a city hitherto ‘forbidden’ to Westerners. Ricci quickly mastered Chinese script and Classical Chinese, a linguistic talent he applied to the writing of a Portuguese-Chinese dictionary. After devoting a few pages to Ricci’s biography, ‘De expeditione’ provides a short introduction to Chinese administration, art and religion, including the presence of Islamism and Judaism. The rest of the work is concerned with the deeds of Ricci (and sometimes other Jesuit missionaries), his travels, learning, and encounters. One section is devoted to one of Ricci’s fundamental contributions to Chinese culture: a European-style world map (1.52 x 3.66 metres) in Chinese, centred on China, which the Wanli Emperor requested to be printed on silk and hung on the walls of his palace—it was also the first Chinese map to feature the Americas. A Latin adaptation of this map, circumscribed to the Chinese Empire, is present on the t-p of this edition.

This copy belonged to Robert C. Jenkins (1815-96), a renowned C19 English antiquarian.

Brunet V, 946: ‘ouvrage curieux’; Graesse VII, 197; Cordier II, 809.
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