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On the Historical Sources of Chongzhen Lishu

Posted By admin On 10:05 AM In Past Events 2017-18 | Comments Disabled

2016/2017 School of Chinese Research Student Seminar

On the Historical Sources of Chongzhen Lishu

陳泳昌 Mr. Chan Wing Cheong

January 20, 2017 (Friday); 5:30-6:45pm
Room 730, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus
Language: Cantonese


In late Ming Dynasty, Jesuit missionaries initiated a movement to transmit European scientific knowledge to China. By establishing fame and social status, the Jesuits hoped that Christianity would be better received by Chinese society. As the solar and lunar eclipse prediction made by Qin Tian Jian (The Astronomical Bureau) were found to be inaccurate, Xu Guangqi worked with the Jesuits to compile Chongzhen Lishu (Chongzhen Reign Treatises on Calendrical Astronomy), which adopted European astronomical methods for planetary position computation. Chongzhen Lishu incorporates the content of various European astronomical publications with scanty citation, therefore causing a lot of difficulty in identifying its European sources. Now the digital archives in major libraries of the world are offering substantial primary literature to this field of research. By cross-examining text and figures, discoveries have been made regarding what kinds of European astronomical publications were consulted when Chongzhen Lishu was compiled. Scholars in early Qing dynasty had identified ambiguities and even contradictions in the content of Chongzhen Lishu. The extent to which Jesuits altered the original text should also be investigated, thereby making a fair assessment to Jesuits’ contribution in the transmission of European knowledge to China.


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