Chinese traditional culture is full of ancient travellers’ accounts and geographical treatises: Chinese merchants and diplomats reached Western countries reporting their experiences, while Christian missionaries wished to describe their words to Chinese people. In this literary context, I conducted a strict research focused on the descriptions of Sicily circulating in China from the first descriptions up to the Qing period. The first description is also the first description ever found of an Italian region appeared in the Middle Kingdom. It was written by the Inspector of Foreign Sea-Trade of Fujian Zhao Rugua in his pilot’s book, the Zhufan zhi (1225). Since then a considerable number of accounts has been produced. First of all the Uighur Nestorian Christian monk Rabban Sauma, who undertook a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and became ambassador of the Patriarch to Europe, crossing the Strait of Messina and writing about the Etna eruption in 1287. After his journey the following descriptions are excerpted from the Western Jesuits and Protestants missionaries’ geographical treatises and maps: Ricci, Aleni, Verbiest, Gützlaff, Muirhead, all wrote about Sicily, inspiring the XIXth century Chinese geographical encyclopaedias compilers. Their words are actually quoted or resumed among the sources of Wei Yuan and Xu Jiyu’s works. Afterwards, with the end of the Opium War and the stipulation of the Unequal Treaties, China was forced to send diplomatic missions abroad. Among the great series of diplomatic and commercial envoys to the West, descriptions of Sicily can be found into the following travellers’ account: Binchun’s Chengcha biji, Zhang Deyi’s Hanghai shuqi and Suishi Faguo ji, Wang Tao’s Manyou suilu, Hong Xun’s Youli Yidali wenjian lu. The continuously growing availability of information about the West developed the interest of some more open-minded scholars who started accepting the cultural and political influence of the West. My study shows how Sicily appears in some of the works of the two important innovators Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao. In particular, Liang Qichao, took Sicily and the Sicilian people’s contribution to the Italian unification process as a model and source of inspiration for Chinese people to obtain independence from the foreign oppression. All the mentioned writers conveyed us information and opinions of Chinese minds and Western minds close to the Chinese thought not only about Sicily and its people. In fact, since Sicily has been a land often contended by different countries, all this writers also describes the government, the attitude and the gestures of Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Swabians, Spanish, French, Austrians, and finally Italians. The growing of the quantity and quality of information about Sicily circulating in China and the changing in the opinion about the Sicilian people represents a slow crescendo in the interest to the Occident and the reasons of it probably lay in the same traditional conception of the world in the Chinese society which needed some centuries to accept the conception that in the world not only existed one “Middle Kingdom” but any country could be the centre of a flourishing culture.

Vinci, R. (2013). The Descriptions of Sicily in Chinese Travel Diaries and Geographic Works until Qing Dynasty. In Paolo Santangelo (a cura di), Ming Qing Studies 2013 (pp. 339-369). Roma : Aracne Editrice.

The Descriptions of Sicily in Chinese Travel Diaries and Geographic Works until Qing Dynasty

VINCI, RENATA
2013

Abstract

Chinese traditional culture is full of ancient travellers’ accounts and geographical treatises: Chinese merchants and diplomats reached Western countries reporting their experiences, while Christian missionaries wished to describe their words to Chinese people. In this literary context, I conducted a strict research focused on the descriptions of Sicily circulating in China from the first descriptions up to the Qing period. The first description is also the first description ever found of an Italian region appeared in the Middle Kingdom. It was written by the Inspector of Foreign Sea-Trade of Fujian Zhao Rugua in his pilot’s book, the Zhufan zhi (1225). Since then a considerable number of accounts has been produced. First of all the Uighur Nestorian Christian monk Rabban Sauma, who undertook a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and became ambassador of the Patriarch to Europe, crossing the Strait of Messina and writing about the Etna eruption in 1287. After his journey the following descriptions are excerpted from the Western Jesuits and Protestants missionaries’ geographical treatises and maps: Ricci, Aleni, Verbiest, Gützlaff, Muirhead, all wrote about Sicily, inspiring the XIXth century Chinese geographical encyclopaedias compilers. Their words are actually quoted or resumed among the sources of Wei Yuan and Xu Jiyu’s works. Afterwards, with the end of the Opium War and the stipulation of the Unequal Treaties, China was forced to send diplomatic missions abroad. Among the great series of diplomatic and commercial envoys to the West, descriptions of Sicily can be found into the following travellers’ account: Binchun’s Chengcha biji, Zhang Deyi’s Hanghai shuqi and Suishi Faguo ji, Wang Tao’s Manyou suilu, Hong Xun’s Youli Yidali wenjian lu. The continuously growing availability of information about the West developed the interest of some more open-minded scholars who started accepting the cultural and political influence of the West. My study shows how Sicily appears in some of the works of the two important innovators Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao. In particular, Liang Qichao, took Sicily and the Sicilian people’s contribution to the Italian unification process as a model and source of inspiration for Chinese people to obtain independence from the foreign oppression. All the mentioned writers conveyed us information and opinions of Chinese minds and Western minds close to the Chinese thought not only about Sicily and its people. In fact, since Sicily has been a land often contended by different countries, all this writers also describes the government, the attitude and the gestures of Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Swabians, Spanish, French, Austrians, and finally Italians. The growing of the quantity and quality of information about Sicily circulating in China and the changing in the opinion about the Sicilian people represents a slow crescendo in the interest to the Occident and the reasons of it probably lay in the same traditional conception of the world in the Chinese society which needed some centuries to accept the conception that in the world not only existed one “Middle Kingdom” but any country could be the centre of a flourishing culture.
9788854866355
Vinci, R. (2013). The Descriptions of Sicily in Chinese Travel Diaries and Geographic Works until Qing Dynasty. In Paolo Santangelo (a cura di), Ming Qing Studies 2013 (pp. 339-369). Roma : Aracne Editrice.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11590/327666
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