Venturing into Magnum Cathay.


- 17th Century Polish Jesuits in China: Michał Boym S.J. (1612–1659), Jan Mikołaj Smogulecki S.J. (1610–1656), and Andrzej Rudomina S.J. (1596–1633). International Workshop, 26 September – 1 October, 2009, Kraków

The activities of Polish Jesuits in 17th century China to some extent still constitute a “terra incog-nita” in sinological research. With this international workshop the Monumenta Serica Institute in cooperation with the Monumenta Serica Sinological Research Center at the Fu Jen University in Taibei, and the Confucius Institute, Kraków, endeavors a reappraisal of their contribution to the missionary enterprise in late Ming to early Qing China. Selected papers of this workshop will be presented as public lectures (see Workshop schedule).

One central aim of the workshop is to make the life and work of Michał Boym S.J. known to a wider academic and non-academic audience on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of his death. Several panels are dedicated to Boym’s engagement in the cultural exchange between China and the West, especially with regard to his publications on China and its history (e.g., his Magnum Cathay), as well as its botany (Flora Sinensis), medicine, cartography and geography. Boym was a pioneer in this exchange process insofar as he explicitly conceived these studies as aids for lay scholars, too. Another panel reviews the contributions of Jan Mikołaj Smogulecki S.J. on astronomy, calendar, mathematics and firearms as well as his collaboration with the Chinese scholar Xue Fengzuo (1640–1680). In the case of Andrzej Rudomina S.J., the focus will be on his conversations with Chinese converts in Fujian and his contributions to the catechetical Kouduo richao of Giulio Aleni (1582–1649).

Applying contextualization, history of mentalities and intellectual history approaches, participants in a further panel will relate these studies on Boym, Smogulecki and Rudomina to the historical, as well as cultural and religious context of the Polish Jesuit mission to China. Among the aspects reviewed is the influence of the socio-cultural environment of Kraków, Vilnius (Wilno) and Lwów (Lemberg) in which Polish Jesuits were prepared academically and spiritually for the missions. Furthermore, Boym’s and Smogulecki’s reaction to the problematic of the transition from the Ming dynasty, to whose court the Jesuits were closely attached, to the Qing dynasty will be analysed.

By choosing Kraków as its venue, the organizers of this workshop also want to introduce to the international academia the Polish research on Sino-Western relations, esp. with regard to 17th century Jesuit mission. In addition, Edward Kajdański will present the result of his recent researches on Boym in an exhibition to be held in the course of this workshop. The participating scholars will have the opportunity to become acquainted with the relevant materials in Poland, during a working session in the Jagiellonian Library (Biblioteka Jagiellońska) of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. The visit to the Jagiellonian Library aims to promote a more systematic exploration of Polish archives, libraries and collections for materials on the China mission and Sino-Western relations.

For the conference report see: China Heritage Quarterly

Michael Bomy, Magni Catay, quod olim Serica, et modo Sinarum est Monarchia (1652) - The Vatican Library 
Michael Bomy, Magni Catay, quod olim Serica, et modo Sinarum est Monarchia (1652) - The Vatican Library