Description of the Most Important Kingdoms of the West


This work, Xi fang yao ji, also entitled Yu lan Xi fang yao ji (Description of the most important kingdoms of the West for the emperor’s inspection), was written jointly by Li Leisi (Chinese name of Ludovico Buglio, 1606–82), An Wensi (Gabriel de Magalhães, 1609–77), and Nan Huairen (Ferdinand Verbiest, 1623–88). Buglio was an Italian Jesuit mathematician and theologian. He arrived in China in 1640 and preached in Sichuan, Fujian, and Jiangxi. He and fellow Jesuit Magalhães were pressed to serve the rebel leader Zhang Xianzhong. In 1648, after Zhang’s death, Buglio was taken to Beijing where, after a short imprisonment, he was left free to carry on his ministry. During the reign of Emperor Kangxi he was again imprisoned, together with other missionaries, because of accusations made by Chinese official Yang Guangxian, but eventually they were released. This work was written by Buglio, Maglhaes, and Verbiest in 1669 at the request of the emperor, who had inquired about the local customs and practices in the West. The contents are similar to those of Xi fang wen da (Questions and answers about the West), written by Ai Rulue (Chinese name of Giulio Aleni, 1582–1649), but the texts of the entries are much shorter and provide summary information on the territories, customs, people, products, and distances of sea routes of the West. In his postscript, Zhang Chao (born 1650), a Qing scholar and novelist, characterized the work as informative and knowledgeable. Presented here is an 1833 edition. It constitutes juan 27 of the series Zhao dai cong shu (Collection of the glorious dynasty) compiled by Zhang Chao. It has a brief introduction at the front and a postscript, both written by Zhang.

Last updated: March 13, 2014