All Essential Matters on Firearms


This treatise, with rich illustrations, is entitled Huo gong qie yao (All essential matters on firearms). Its alternative title is Ze ke lu (Rules for defense). The text was originally dictated by Tang Ruowang (the Chinese name of the German Jesuit missionary Johann Adam Schall von Bell, 1592–1666) in 1643 and copied by the late-Ming scholar and expert on firearms, Jiao Xu (active 1643). Jiao Xu expressed his view that the technical standards of Chinese cannons and other artillery weapons were not inferior to those of the West and that there existed already in the Ming dynasty important works on military affairs. He cited as examples Wu jing zong yao (Complete essentials of the military cannons) and Ji xiao xin shu (New book on effective discipline). However, with changing circumstances Chinese strategies and technologies no longer met the needs of the Ming army. Jiao Xu also pointed out that Chinese military works were colored by mystery and thus not suitable for practical use in war. The only worthwhile work was Hai wai huo gong shen qi tu shuo (Illustrated work on magical artillery weapons overseas) by Zhao Shizhen (1552–1611), a Ming inventor. To overcome these perceived deficiencies, Jiao Xu consulted Schall von Bell, who dictated this work to him. The subjects of the book include the origins of warfare with firearms; the manufacture of cannons and firearms; models of gun and cannon production; materials used in guns, cannons, and mines; and basic information on Western weights and measurements used in manufacturing. As the influence of the Western missionaries declined, this work was partially forgotten. It was not given much attention until the middle of the 19th century, when conflicts between the West and China flared up and prompted a renewed appreciation of its importance.

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4 juan : illustrations


  • Only preface, 27 pages of illustrations and the 1st page of juan 1 are included in the WDL presentation.
  • Included in collection Hai shan xian guan cong shu

Last updated: March 7, 2014