Toonneel van China, door veel, zoo geestelijke als werreltijke, geheugteekenen, verscheide vertoningen van de natuur en kunst, en blijken van veel andere gedenkwaerdige dingen, geopent en verheerlykt

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Author: Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680)

Year: 1668

Publisher: J. Janssonius van Waesberge & Widow E. Weyerstraet

Place: Amsterdam


[12]+286+[10] pages with engraved frontispiece, 60 illustrations in text and 24 plates (some folding) outside collation, including maps of China and Asia, Oriental script specimina (Chinese, Syriac), gods, dresses, animals, etc. Woodcut ornament, stamp on title and index. Folio *13 3/4" x 9 1/2") bound in half leather over marbled boards with 5 raised spine bands with black label in gilt lettering.  (Cordier, Bibl. Sinica p. 26. De Backer/Sommervogel IV c. 1064 nr. 24. Tiele 601. STCN (7)) First Dutch edition. 

Athanasius Kircher was a German Jesuit scholar and polymath who published around 40 major works of comparative religion, geology, and medicine. Kircher has been compared to fellow Jesuit Roger Joseph Boscovich and to Leonardo da Vinci for his vast range of interests, and has been honored with the title "Master of a Hundred Arts". He taught for more than 40 years at the Roman College, where he set up a wunderkammer. A resurgence of interest in Kircher has occurred within the scholarly community in recent decades.

Kircher had an early interest in China, telling his superior in 1629 that he wished to become a missionary to that country. In 1667 he published a treatise whose full title was China monumentis, qua sacris qua profanis, nec non variis naturae & artis spectaculis, aliarumque rerum memorabilium argumentis illustrata, and which is commonly known simply as China Illustrata, i.e. China Illustrated, It was a work of encyclopedic breadth, combining material of unequal quality, from accurate cartography to mythical elements, such as a study of dragons. The work drew heavily on the reports of Jesuits working in China, in particular Michael Boym and Martino Martini.

China Illustrata emphasized the Christian elements of Chinese history, both real and imagined: the book noted the early presence of Nestorian Christians (with a Latin translation of the Nestorian Stele of Xi'an provided by Boym and his Chinese collaborator, Andrew Zheng), but also claimed that the Chinese were descended from the sons of Ham, that Confucius was Hermes Trismegistus/Moses and that the Chinese characters were abstracted hieroglyphs.


Rebound in half leather. Some worm holes repaired else a very good copy.

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