Relocating the Qing in the Global History of Science: The Manchu Translation of the 1603 World Map by Li Yingshi and Matteo Ricci

Florin Stefan MORAR*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Map of Observing the Mysteries of the Heaven and Earth is a world map in eight panels created in 1603 by the Ming dynasty military official Li Yingshi 李應試. The map is a variant of the known work by the Italian Jesuit savant Matteo Ricci and the scholar Li Zhizao 李之藻. This essay focuses on one copy of this 1603 world map, which was in the possession of the Manchus of the Later Jin state, the precursor of the Qing. This essay argues that the map was used in the Shenyang palace before 1644, the year when the Manchus conquered Beijing and established the Qing, China’s last ruling imperial dynasty, and that it was inscribed with selective translations of the map’s cosmological elements and place-names in a version of the Old Manchu script. The Map of Observing the Mysteries of the Heaven and Earth matters because it prompts us to rethink the process of knowledge circulation between China and early modern Europe. The map shows that the Manchus accessed and used the products of Western learning even before their conquest of China and sought to adapt them to their needs through translation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-694
Number of pages22
JournalIsis
Volume109
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

I would like to thank Anne-Sophie Pratte, Mario Cams, Qin Ping, Sungho Kimlee, Mark C. Elliott, and the three anonymous referees for Isis, who have provided detailed and insightful comments on this essay. I wish to express my gratitude to Katharine Park for her generosity and support during my graduate studies at Harvard and for having inspired me to research China and the global early modern. Likewise, I would like to thank Shigehisa Kuriyama for his continued support, brilliant advice, and intellectual stimulation.

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