Supplement to the “Rules of Defense, All Essential Matters on Firearms”


Shown here is a treatise on firearms with rich illustrations, originally written by the late-Ming scholar and expert on firearms, Jiao Xu, based on the dictation of Tang Ruowang (Chinese name of German Jesuit missionary Johann Adam Schall von Bell, 1592–1666), with additional commentaries by Zhao Zhong. The inside page of this work has an added title, Zeng bu Ze ke lu Huo gong qie yao (Supplement to the “Rules of defense, all essential matters on firearms”). The book, in two juan, was completed in 1643, with a supplement in one juan, entitled Huo gong mi yao (Secret essential matters on firearms). It deals mainly with the origins of firearms warfare, the manufacture of cannons and firearms, production models of weapons, the materials of guns, cannons, and mines, and basic information on the Western weights and measures used in manufacturing. Ding Gongchen (1800–1875), a late-Qing mechanical engineer from Jinjiang, Fujian Province, had systematically studied Western firearms and gained experience in the First Opium War (1839–42) between Great Britain and China. In 1841 Ding wrote a one-volume treatise, entitled Yan pao tu shuo (Illustrated work on the performance of artillery); he later changed the title to Yan pao shuo ji yao (Essentials on cannons) in four juan. On learning of the existence of the 17th-century work, he acquired a copy at a bookseller in Suzhou. He thought that this work provided the most detailed information on cannons, especially the casting of cannons and ammunition, as well as on the weapons for city-wall attacks. So he revised Ze ke lu by filling in some gaps in the original text. In 1847 he published this supplementary work, printed in three juan in one volume, and added illustrations. In 1851 he took a post at the Bureau of Firearms in Guilin, where he had his book duplicated and distributed to the military garrisons as a reference source for artillerymen to use.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Ding Gongchen, Jinjiang, China


Title in Original Language


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Type of Item

Physical Description

3 juan, 1 volume ; illustrations


  • Only Yang Shoujing’s handwritten script, preface and partial text of juan 1 are included in the WDL presentation.

Last updated: March 5, 2014