It is with renewed enthusiasm that we expand the editorial plan for this year with an issue which gives continuity to a number of themes addressed in recent issues.
The content of this issue falls mainly into two major parts: the first an in-depth analysis of an important early Western cartographic manuscript on China; and the second a multi-faceted look at Chinese literature, poetry and linguistics.
The first area centres on the Jesuit Michele Ruggieri's [°1543-†1607] early missionary work in Macao and southern China under the aegis of the Portuguese ecclesiastic jurisdiction, with particular focus on his activity as geographer and cartographer.
Articles in past issues of the RC have already commented on the dedication of Ruggieri, overshadowed by the 'exaltation' of Francis Xavier and the 'monumentality' of Matteo Ricci, to the expansion of Catholicism in China. This issue centres on his outstanding and pioneering Atlante della Cina (Atlas of China), an early seventeenth century collection of maps and notes on the Chinese Empire.
One must not forget that while Matteo Ricci was in fact responsible for the remarkable expansion of the early Catholic missions in China, it was Michele Ruggieri who master-minded from inception the Jesuit strategy for overcoming the immense difficulties associated with the process of evangelisation in China — an arduous process which required from the very beginning an understanding and respect for the Chinese people and customs.
Firm in his beliefs and determination, Ruggieri, with the assistance of a Chinese painter and calligrapher, learnt some twelve thousand Chinese ideograms during the little more than one year he spent in Macao. By late 1580, through donations, he had gathered enough money to build an annex with a number of rooms in a site adjacent to the Jesuit College of St. Paul's. It was in this outbuilding that Ricci resided after his arrival in Macao in 1582 and it was also here that Ruggieri and Ricci were to establish the first Catholic Mission in China of modern times on 14th of September 1583.
Ruggieri's willpower and undying desire to learn about and discern in cross-cultural terms the legacy of the civilization of China and its people made him the first outstanding European sinologist, an accurate geographer of the lands of the Middle Kingdom and a meticulous cartographer of the Ming Empire's comprehensive vastness.
This was only made possible by his stay in Macao, where he would have had the opportunity to consult past Portuguese documentation on China. In the early and mid-sixteenth century, prior to Ruggieri's deep and systematic analysis on the topography and governmental administration of the Chinese Empire, written accounts on China already existed by Cristóvão Vieira and Vasco Calvo, Portuguese prisoners in Guangzhou, as did an elaborate report by Galiote Pereira, an adventurous nobleman who sailed with merchants along the China coast. The first treatise on China, from the pen of Gaspar da Cruz, a Portuguese Dominican missionary, was printed in Evora, in 1570.
Francisco Rodrigues's Livro da Geografia Oriental (Book of Oriental Geography) of circa 1513 contains the first Western representations of the South China Sea and China's coastal profile, and it is in his charts of 1519 that the name of "China" appears for the first time. In strict cartographic terms, however, Diogo Ribeiro's planisphere of 1525 is the first map to include the name "China" as opposed to the previous designations of "Cataio " ("Cathay") or "India Superior" ("Upper India"), while the portolanos of Lobo Homem, dated 1554, are the first to show a continuous and surveyed rendering of the coast of China.
Fernão Vaz Dourado's Atlas de Vinte Folhas (The Twenty Page Atlas) of 1570 is the first cartographic register to include "Macao", while Manuel Godinho de Erédia's [°1562-†ca1623] map [late sixteenth century/early seventeenth century] is the first to show the layout of the settlement. Fernando Sales Lopes also mentions the remarkable contribution to the development of European cartography of China of Luís Jorge de Barbuda's map of 1580, published in Abraham Ortelius' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum in 1584.
Last but not least for the evolution of European world mapping are the lesser known, and as yet still to be extensively researched, earlier contributions of Portuguese cartography. The famous 'Cantino's Planisphere', produced in Portugal in 1502, was a revolutionary precursor to and certain influence upon Matteo Ricci's celebrated 'Map of the World'.
Michele Ruggieri's greatest success was to consult contemporary Chinese documentation and maps and to undertake research in loco with the direct assistance of the Chinese. This issue of the RC presents four of the thirty maps included in Ruggieri's original manuscript, recently edited under the supervision of Prof. Eugenio Lo Sardo. We are grateful to the Istituto Cartografico e Zecca dello Stato (National Mint and Institute of Cartography) for allowing us to reproduce them here.
The second part of this issue presents new papers on a number of topics by past contributors to the RC, namely: Ana Maria Amaro, Maria Trigoso, Maurizio Scarpari, Tang Kaijian and Zhang Wenqin.
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