KIRCHER, Athanasius.

China monumentis,


China monumentis,
qua sacris qua profanis, nec non variis naturae & artis spectaculis, aliarumque rerum memorabilium argumentis illustrata …
Antwerp, Meurs, 1667.

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‘One of the most influential books in shaping the European conception of China in its day’ (Löwendahl).
“Gathering his work from other members of the Society [of Jesuits], Kircher wrote one of the century’s most influential treatises on China. His primary purpose was to establish the authenticity of the Nestorian monument discovered in Sian, and to that end he produced in print the original Chinese and Syriac inscriptions on the monument, the Chinese text in romanization, and finally a Latin translation and his explication of the Chinese and Syriac texts. In addition, Kircher included a sizeable description of China and other places in Asia. For example, in a section devoted to Christianity in China, he sketched all the old overland routes, including that of Grueber and d’Orville from Agra to Peking, as well as giving a description of Tibet. Following what he thought to be the spread of idolatry from the Near East to Persia, India, and finally to East Asia, Kircher described the religions of China, Japan, and India. There are several chapters on government, customs, geography, fauna, flora, and mechanical arts of China, and a very interesting scholarly discussion of the Chinese language. There is a long Chinese-Latin dictionary. Kircher’s volume contains several beautiful pictures taken from Chinese and Mughal originals, which Grueber had brought back to Europe with him in 1664. Although the book was not the product of Kircher’s own experience in China, it was frequently used or cited as a source of information by later writers. Some of the information contained in it, for example the text of the Nestorian monument, Roth’s description of Hindu religion, and Grueber’s description of Tibet, had not appeared in print before.” (Lach).


First edition, folio (32.5 x 21 cm), additional engraved title (with Amsterdam imprint), portrait of the author, 2 folding maps, 22 plates and illustrations within the text, 2pp. ad at end, occasional staining or spotting, contemporary vellum, stained, occasional light toning, generally a very good fresh copy.


Cordier, BS 26; Merrill 20 (Antwerpen 1667); de Backer-S. IV, 1064, 24; Lipperheide Le 3; Löwendahl 133.


Stock ID: 93169