• Matteo Ricci—the Envoy of the Cultural and Technological Exchanges between China and the West in the late Ming Dynasty
  • Source:Nanjing Museum | Release Time:2013-11-11
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    The year of 2010 is the 400th anniversary of Matteo Ricci’s death. It just so happens that this year is the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations betweenChinaandItalyand Italy-China culture year. For this, the government of Marche of Italy cooperates with Chinese Center for the exchange of cultural relics to supply a successive travelling exhibition from Capital Museum to Shanghai Museum and Nanjing Museum. The exhibition is called “Matteo Ricci—the Envoy of the Cultural and Technological Exchanges between China and the West in the late Ming Dynasty”, which is used to remember the pioneer, who had made huge contributions to the cultural exchange between the East and the West.

    More than 400 years ago, 3 Spanish carracks started from Lisbon, passed through the wrong path of Cape of Good Hope and went by Indian, spending 8 years sending a young Italian to the port of Macao, China----along the Europe-Asia oceangoing route chart marked on the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum by Ortelius, you can go back to the days over 400 years ago, and take an encyclopedic glance at the eastern and western world at that time from Matteo Ricci’s perspective.

    The exhibition follows the whole life of Matteo Ricci from his birth and education to oceangoing voyage and to setting foot on the land of China. The exhibits add up to 113 pieces (groups), supplied together by both countries. Among them, 62 pieces (groups) of Italian cultural relics come from dozens of museums and libraries in Rome, Macerata and Genoa, etc. 51 pieces (groups) of Chinese cultural relics come from Shanghai Museum, Capital Museum, Nanjing Museum and Liaoning Museum.

    Italian side selects 72 pieces of “national treasures” including Eternity and Angels by Raphael, Portrayal of Philips II by Titian, and Strength and Unfortunate War by Lorenzo Lotto, etc., thus reflecting the new achievements of Europe from the 16th to 17th century after the Renaissance. The 62 pieces of exhibits, as selected by Chinese side, such as Scroll Painting of Li Duanduan by Tang Yin and the first Ode to Red Cliff by Wen Zhengming, etc. reflect Chinese cultural and artistic level and contemporary spirit at that time, as well as the 28 years of journey of Matteo Ricci’s heart in China. Nanjing Museum selects 12 pieces from the Ming cultural objects collected in it to take part in the exhibition of Matteo Ricci—the Envoy of the Cultural and Technological Exchanges between China and the West in the late Ming Dynasty, to display the elegant demeanor of the Ming culture in the period of the late 16th century and the early 17th century, so as to cherish the memory of Mr. Matteo Ricci—the pioneer in the cultural exchange between the East and the West.

    400 years ago, Matteo Ricci, as an envoy of the Civilization of Western Europe, successfully built a bridge of technological and cultural exchange between China and Italy; today, 400 years later, the exhibition of Matteo Ricci—the Envoy of the Cultural and Technological Exchanges between China and the West in the late Ming Dynasty, co- sponsored by both China and Italy, realizes a historic dialogue beyond time and space. It will become another memorable story in the history of Sino-Italy exchange of culture.

    Date of Exhibit: From June 3rd,2010 to July 25th, 2010

    Exhibition venue: The Art Exhibition Hall of Nanjing Museum

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    Matteo Ricci is the first European who introduced the western science and technology and art in modern times into China, and is also the first westerner who read Chinese literature and seriously studied Chinese classics. 

    When living in China, Matteo Ricci took the western natural science in which the high society had interest as a “stepping-stone to success”. Besides the Bible, he also brought many other things, which were absolutely novel to the Chinese at that time. They were striking clock, dulcimer, terrestrial globe, celestial globe, compass, sundial, magnifying glass and telescope, etc. Matteo Ricci wrote books in Chinese, to introduce the achievement and thinking mode of the western natural science. Elements of Geometry, translated by him and Xu Guangqi, introduced the ancient Greek logical thinking and mathematical way by which “axiom” and “law” were used to definitely prove proposition. Among the gifts brought by Matteo Ricci, what shocked the imperial literati and officialdom most was the Full Figure of the World. The world map subverted throughout the Chinese people’s traditional view that China was the center of the world. In addition, he was also the first foreign music teacher in Chinese imperial palace. He brought a clavichord, offered to the emperor Anthems, and taught the eunuchs to play 8 pieces of piano music with Chinese lyrics prepared. Matteo Ricci et al. directly developed the first oil painters of China.  

    On May 11th, 1610, Matteo Ricci died in Beijing. Emperor Wanli broke protocol to approve the request of Minister of Rites, to bury him at a cemetery outside Fuchengmen of Beijing.

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