Treatise on Hawks

Jin cheng ying lun (Treatise on hawks) is by Li Leisi (Ludovico Buglio, 1606–82), an Italian Jesuit missionary to China, mathematician, and theologian, who first preached in Sichuan (where he was the first Christian missionary), and in Fujian and Jiangxi provinces. He was taken prisoner by Zhang Xianzhong, leader of a band of freebooters, and brought to Beijing in 1648 by Haoge, a member of the imperial family, after Zhang Xianzhong’s death. Set free and allowed to resume his ministry, Buglio built a church called Dongtang (Eastern Church). He collaborated with the Flemish Jesuit Nan Huairen (Ferdinand Verbiest, 1623–88) in reforming the Chinese calendar. Buglio translated into Chinese more than 80 volumes, chiefly works on theology, language, astronomy, and mathematics. Among his translations are two booklets that were the first writings to introduce Western biology to China: Shi zi shuo (On lions) and this work on hawks. When a Portuguese diplomat seeking improved trade relations with China presented Emperor Kangxi (1654–1722) with the gift of a lion, an animal not native to China, Buglio produced his booklet on lions, which was published in Beijing. The emperor was greatly pleased with the work. The Manchus liked to breed hawks for hunting, and the emperor was interested to know how hawks were bred in the West. By imperial order, Buglio compiled this booklet on hawks, describing in detail various kinds of hawks, both domestic and foreign, their shapes, dispositions, feeding, and methods of breeding and training. The end of the book contained a special section on sparrow hawks. The entire work is in 55 sections. It was included in volume 12 of Gu jin tu shu ji cheng (Compendium of ancient and present books) under its original title, in the section on hawks, in the category of natural sciences. This edition, from the Qianlong era (1736–1820), is incomplete, with only 33 leaves, consisting of leaves 1–29 on hawks and the first section on sparrow hawks, which deals with how to train sparrow hawks to catch birds. Buglio died in Beijing on October 7, 1682, and was given a state funeral. His booklets on lions and hawks were not his own writings; both were translations of works by the 16th-century Italian naturalist, Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522–1605).

Heroes Return to the Truth

This 1861 work was published during the Taiping Rebellion, a vast political and religious revolt against the Qing dynasty of China that lasted for more than ten years. Very few books were produced in that period, thus publications from that era are rare. The chief author of this work was He Chunfa, minister of the bureau of punishments in the court of Gan Wang (Shield King), a title bestowed by Hong Xiuquan (1813–64), the Taiping leader, to Hong Rengan (1822–64), one of his cousins. In 1851, Hong Xiuquan established Taiping Tianguo (the Celestial Kingdom of Great Peace) in parts of China the Taipings controlled and took the title of Celestial King. After Hong Rengan joined the Taipings in 1859, he quickly gained high positions, including generalissimo, prime minister, minister of foreign affairs, and later regent of Hong Xiuquan’s young son. In his youth, Hong Rengan was a schoolteacher and later learned Western culture and Christian teachings in Shanghai and in Hong Kong. He was the chief compiler of three books, one of which is this booklet, printed at his court. The work has its original cover and book label, on which the title is given: Qin ding ying jie gui zhen (Heroes return to the truth, issued by imperial order). The smaller characters on the right of the title page indicate that it was issued by the “Prime Minister and Generalissimo Shield King,” and the four characters on the left read: “Issued by Imperial order.” The smallest characters on the top of the page read: “Newly printed in the xinyou year [1861] of our Father, Brother and King of Celestial Kingdom of Great Peace.” The work proclaims the revolutionary thought of the Taipings. Its purpose is clearly outlined in the preface: to call on heroes and prominent figures to believe in truth and to help the world. It was said that the authors, who were present when Hong Rengan gave audience to visitors, took careful notes of his bao xun (precious teachings) and put them in the book. It takes the form of a dialogue between Hong Rengan and a deserter from the Manchu camp, with Hong expounding upon various Taiping systems of etiquette and propriety and affirming that one must know that the motion of the celestial body is the order of nature. The book, in one juan, has very high research value.

Book on the Division of Geographical Boundaries by Reference to the Stars

Ancient Chinese astronomy was used to make prognostications about human affairs by pairing celestial bodies with states, counties, prefectures, and people. Predictions could thereby be made about favorable developments or disasters that might befall a particular locality or person based on movements of the sun, the moon, or stars. This methodology was called fen ye (division of geographical boundaries by reference to the stars). The methodology and the theory on which it was based existed since the Han dynasty (circa 206 BC–220 AD), and over the centuries the system became more complicated and the division of astronomical and geographical boundaries more complex. During the Tang dynasty (618–907), the system was revised, and it was adopted and used in later centuries. Da Ming qing lei tian wen fen ye zhi shu (Book on the division of geographical boundaries with reference to the stars) is a rare book, written early in the Ming dynasty by Liu Ji, and presented to the first Ming emperor, Hongwu, in the 17th year of his reign (1384). The arrangement of the compilation is unique, as it attempts to demarcate geographical divisions with reference to the 12 stars in relation to counties and prefectures designated by the Ming Bureau of Astronomy. Its contents are similar to that of an earlier work, Tang shu tian wen zhi (Astronomical treatises in the records of the Tang dynasty). Based on the astronomical treatises in Tang shu (The book of Tang) of circa 941 and Jin shu (The book of Jin) of 648, the author introduces each of the administrative divisions in relation to the positions of the 12 stars. The meaning and origin of these star positions were based on the 28 lunar mansions, and they were named after great personages, historical nations, and bird totems. Because Hongwu had established his capital in Nanjing, Jiangsu, in southeast China, the author began with the star position Douniu Wuyue (Fighting bull of Wu and Yue states) and the corresponding geographical area of Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. Some local histories were even written using this system, which explains why this particular title was included in Xu xiu Si ku quan shu (Supplement to the catalogue of the Siku Collection) as a geographical work under the history section. The work is of great historical value, as it provides information on the evolution of the administrative divisions during the late Yuan and the early Ming dynasties.  It has 24 juan, in ten volumes.

Refuting Heresy

Pi xie lun (Refuting heresy) is by Yang Guangxian (1597–1669) from Shexian, Anhui Province, a fierce opponent of the early Christian missionaries to China. Beginning about 1659, Yang assumed the self-appointed role of campaigner against the missionaries. In 1644, German Jesuit Johann Adam Schall von Bell (circa 1592–1666) was asked to prepare for the new Qing dynasty a calendar based on Western mathematical calculations. Schall later was named director of the imperial Board of Astronomy. Yang submitted a document to the Board of Ceremonies, charging Schall with errors in astronomical calculations and accusing him and other missionaries of plotting against the state and of indoctrinating the people with false ideas. Schall, seven Chinese astronomers, and some other Chinese were imprisoned in 1665 and sentenced to death. The three other missionaries involved were Ferdinand Verbiest, Lodovico Buglio, and Gabriel de Magalhães, who were slated to be flogged and exiled. Schall and most of the Chinese were later freed, but five astronomers, all of them Christian converts, were executed. In the same year, Yang was appointed head of the Bureau of Astronomy, but he was removed in 1668 and replaced by the Jesuit Verbiest, who proved the miscalculations made by Yang. The case of Schall, who had since died, was reviewed and Yang was sentenced to banishment. Later released from exile due to his old age, he died on his way home. This manuscript copy, in one volume, is representative of Yang’s work against calendars based on Western mathematical calculations. It consists of three juan, each of which has a subtitle. At the end of the text are five appendices of Yang’s other works published between 1662 and 1678, including Hun tian shi er gong tu shuo (Illustrated twelve divisions of the celestial sphere). This is a very rare copy.

A Comprehensive Calendar Arranged by Subject Matter

Lei bian li fa tong shu da quan (A comprehensive calendar arranged by subject matter) was compiled by Xiong Zongli (1409–82) during the Ming dynasty. He combined two other Ming works, Song Huishan tong shu (Encyclopedic astronomical calendar) by Song Huishan and Li fa ji cheng (Collected works on astronomical calendars) by He Shitai, made corrections, and published them under a new title. The work is in 30 juan. In the first 19 juan, tables of contents list the names of all three authors. In juan 20–30, no author names are given, and it is possible that these parts were written by different authors. The contents of the work are mixed and trivial, with a focus on predictions in daily life, such as ground-breaking for a house, succession to a title or appointment to a new post, praying and blessing, the coming of age of boys and girls, marriages and weddings, the building of a pond, visiting a doctor, the location of a demon of pestilence, and so forth. The book also provides information, with illustrations, on good and bad luck in the 12-month cycle, good and bad luck deities in the 12-year cycle of the sun and moon, suitable locations for each of the 12 years, for each of the 12 months, and so forth. As the contents of the book were very much related to popular geomancy concerning daily life, it was well received and enjoyed wide use. However, the calculations and predictions used by the author were different from those made by other fortune-tellers, which caused confusion. During the Qing dynasty, another work, Qin ding xie ji bian fang shu (Treatise on harmonizing times and distinguishing directions) was issued in 1739 by imperial order to unify the various fortune-telling practices. The Si ku quan shu ti yao (Annotated bibliography of the Siku Collection) made a reference to this work as “erroneous.” In the early years of the Qing dynasty, privately published annual calendars began to appear and to be distributed. By the 16th year of the Qianlong reign (1751) the court granted citizens the right to privately publish almanacs and calendars, copies of which soon flooded the market. This work may have been used as one of the references during the compilation of the official almanac.

Enlightening the Bewildered about the New Calendar

Xin li xiao huo (Enlightening the bewildered about the new calendar) is by Tang Ruowang, the Chinese name of Johann Adam Schall von Bell (circa 1592–1666), the German Jesuit missionary and astronomer who became an important adviser to the first emperor of the Qing dynasty. Schall had trained in Rome in the astronomical system of Galileo. He arrived in Macao in 1619, where he studied Chinese and mathematics, and  reached the Chinese mainland in 1622. After impressing the Chinese with the superiority of Western astronomy by correctly predicting the exact time of the eclipse that occurred on June 21, 1629, Schall was given an important official post translating Western astronomical books into Chinese and reforming the Chinese calendar. His modified calendar provided more accurate predictions of eclipses of the sun and the moon than traditional Chinese calendars. In 1645, shortly after the first Qing emperor came to the throne, Schall was asked to make a new calendar, which he based on the 1635 calendar that he had presented to the last Ming emperor. Schall also supervised the imperial Board of Astronomy and was appointed its director, a position that enabled him to gain permission from the emperor for the Jesuits to establish churches and to preach throughout the country. Schall wrote this work to answer questions about the new calendar and to highlight the differences between it and the old Chinese calendric calculations. This copy is an 1833 Qing edition and is included in the 150-juan series, Zhao dai cong shu (Collected works of the Qing dynasty). It is in the form of six questions and answers. The questions include: why the new calendar exchanged the positions of zi (turtle beak) and shen (three stars), two of the 28 lunar mansions of the Chinese constellations; why, in marking the time of day, the new calendar used the 96-ke-per-day system (1 ke = 15 minutes) instead of 100-ke-per-day as in the old system; and why ziqi, one of the four invisible stars, was eliminated. To strengthen his position and avoid clashes with conservative Chinese officials, Schall maintained a tolerant attitude toward Chinese traditions, and his calendar retained certain content relating to traditional daily fortune telling. As a consequence, beginning in 1648–49, several missionaries, led by Gabriel de Magalhães, published documents critical of Schall, first for taking an official post, which was considered an act against his vow to the Society of Jesus, and secondly for the content of his calendar, which contained elements of superstition. Schall defended himself in another work, Min li pu zhu jie huo (Detailed notes on the calendar to answer doubts), which he published in 1662 with the help of Father Ferdinand Verbiest. After more than ten years of debate and deliberation, the Catholic Church ruled that the use of Yin and Yang in Schall’s calendar did constitute superstition, but that assuming the directorship of the Bureau of Astronomy promoted missionary work and was thus permissible.

Enlarged Terrestrial Atlas

Guang yu tu (Enlarged terrestrial atlas) is the oldest extant comprehensive atlas of China by the famous Ming cartographer Luo Hongxian (1504–64). It is based on the Yuan dynasty Yu di tu (Terrestrial map) by Zhu Siben (1273–1333). Luo Hongxian, a native of Jishui, Jiangxi Province, received his jin shi degree in 1529, the eighth year of Jiajing reign, and gained an official post as a senior compiler. Elbowed out of the court by other officials, he began to follow the teachings of Wang Yangming (1472–1529), the Neo-Confucian philosopher. He also studied astronomy, geography, irrigation, military affairs, and mathematics. He supposedly acquired a copy of Zhu Siben’s map, no longer extant, measuring about 7 x 7 chi (1 chi = approximately 0.3 meter). Using the earlier work as a blueprint, he applied traditional Chinese measuring methods to draw his maps on a grid scale, which then were bound in book form. The atlas, containing maps of the entire country of the mid-Ming era, was reengraved time and again. The first edition was issued in 1561 by Hu Song, provincial governor of Zhejiang Province, with the addition of two maps of the Ryukyu Islands and Japan. Another edition was issued in 1566 by Han Jun’en, an imperial circuit inspector of Shandong Province. This copy is dated 1579, the seventh year of the Wanli reign, and was issued in two juan by Qian Dai (1541–1622), the imperial inspector of Shandong. Juan 1 is a comprehensive atlas of China, with 16 maps of the southern and northern provinces, two provinces under direct rule, and 13 provincial administrative governments. It contains 93 leaves, bound in three volumes. Juan 2 has a total of 27 maps, in 106 leaves, also bound in three volumes, with ten maps of the Nine Frontiers extending from Liaodong to Gansu. The other maps are of Tao He, Songpan, Jianchang, Mayang, Qianzhen, the Yellow River, sea transport, grain transportation by water, Korea, foreign islands to the southeast and southwest, Annan, the west region, the northern deserts, the Ryukyu Islands, and Japan. Seven prefaces precede the atlas. At the end of each map are brief notes and explanatory figures. The textual part includes information about the evolution of organizational systems, affiliated areas, residences, land taxes, garrisons, soldiers, roads, and other topics. The atlas paints an imposing picture of China in the middle of the Ming dynasty and it had a far-reaching influence both in China and in foreign countries. Until the late 17th century, maps of China published in Europe were, without exception, drawn on the basis of this work.

A Complete Illustrated Atlas of Counties under the Jurisdiction of the Jiangning Administrative Government

Jiangning was designated a province in the 25th year of the Qianlong reign of the Qing dynasty (1760). The provincial administrative government was established under the supervision of the governor-general of two Yangtze provinces, one of eight governor-generalships instituted during the Qing dynasty. The province straddled the Yangtze River and was close to the sea, bordering Anhui and Sichuan to the south and Henan to the north. Under its jurisdiction were four prefectures, two directly-controlled divisions, one subprefecture, and 33 divisions and counties. The territory stretched more than 750 li (the li measure varied over time; 1 li then equaled about 0.8 kilometer) from east to west and 1,200 li from north to south. Jiangning bu zheng si shu fu ting zhou xian yu di quan tu (A complete illustrated atlas of counties under the jurisdiction of the Jiangning administrative government) is a detailed representation of the province. Illustrations showing each locality vary in height (75–143.5 centimeters) and in width (37.2–139.8 centimeters). Latitude, longitude, and directional orientation are provided, but not degree markings or scale. Scale and distance thus cannot be determined from the size of the illustrations. The engraving is very refined, with clearly marked large and small characters written in fine calligraphy. The atlas contains a total of 43 maps, including a general map of Jiangning Province; maps of prefectures such as Huai’an, Yangzhou, and Xuzhou; general maps of the two directly controlled divisions, Haizhou and Tongzhou, and of the subprefecture, Haimen; and maps of counties, including Jurong, Lishui, and Jiangpu. The title of each map is handwritten in red. There is also an illustrated handbook with a red silk frame. The Jiangning map takes up an entire leaf; the other localities occupy only half a leaf. The explanations are accurate and concise, and the text is written in a style to be read aloud, presumably by experts. The redrawing of provinces, prefectures, and counties served various political and administrative purposes in China, and this work contains valuable information for historical research.

Illustrated Gazetteer of the Four Counties of Shaanxi

Shaanxi si zhen tu shuo (Illustrated gazetteer of the four counties of Shaanxi) is an important work on frontier defenses during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). It provides details on defensive preparations in the four counties of Shaanxi that were strategic points in the Nine Frontier Fortification System (Yansui, Ningxia, Gansu, and Guyuan). This copy is fragmented and includes only two of an original four volumes, on Yansui and Ningxia. The volume on Yansui has 40 leaves, beginning with the illustrated Yanzhen tu (Map of Yanzhen), followed by illustrated descriptions, in detail, of the county and 36 defensive strongholds, including walled cities, fortresses, and military camps, such as the fortresses of Huangfuchuan Bao and Qingshuiying Bao. Also included are information on the location of the fortresses, boundaries, numbers of defensive troops, numbers of horses and donkeys, army provisions, the locations of enemy nomad tribes outside the borders, and a guide on how to defend, intercept, and kill in the event of an encounter with the enemy. The second volume, on Ningxia, has 35 leaves and records more than 30 fortresses and camps, including the camp of Huama Chi, the fortress of Gaoping, and the walled city of Zhongwei. Although this edition is fragmented and its author and date of  publication are unknown, the book is an important source for the study of the politics, economy, and military affairs of the middle Ming dynasty.

A Complete Geographic Atlas of East Section of Yansui County

This accordion-shaped book is a military map painted in color on silk, depicting Yansui Zhen, a military fortress in northern Shaanxi province. The work is long and wide, measuring 48.3 centimeters high and 25.5 centimeters wide, in 14 folds. A label on the cover gives the title, Yan sui dong lu di li tu ben (A complete geographic atlas of the east section of Yansui County). The county had 36 fortresses, but only 11 of them are depicted in this work: Qingshui Ying, Mugua Yuan, Gushan, Zhenqiang, Yongxing, Shenmu, Dabaiyou, Bailin, Gaojia, Jian’an, and Shuangshan. The rest of county’s fortresses, including Huangfuchuan Bao and the 24 others, are missing. The color illustrations depict mountains, walled cities, rivers, and fortresses, with no texts attached. Place-names are hand-written on pieces of fine brown paper, which are glued into the book. Many of the top margins contain words indicating that the places shown were inaccessible. Produced with skilled and refined technique, the atlas is one of the rarest military maps of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). The author and the exact date of publication are unknown.