London: Edward Cave, T. Gardner. 1738 – 1741. Binding: Early 20th-century half calf over marbled paper boards. Blind rules on calf edges. Spine with 5 raised bands in 6 compartments. Title in gilt lettering in maroon label in 2; vol. number in gilt in brown label in 4. Gilt motifs in compartments. , Notes: Jean-Baptiste Du Halde (1674 – 1743) was a French Jesuit historian specializing in China. He did not travel to China, but collected seventeen Jesuit missionaries’ reports and provided an encyclopedia survey of the history, culture, and society of China and “Chinese Tartary” (Manchuria).
His Description Of The Empire Of China, drawn from the Jesuit Lettres Édifiantes Et Curieuses and unpublished reports containing translations of Chinese texts of various origins, first appeared in Paris in 1735, and was translated into English within the following two years. The book provides, besides a very detailed geographical description based off the work of the Jesuits, an expansive encyclopedic coverage of all aspects of Chinese civilization, including the emperors, government, military, nobility, agriculture, handicrafts, religion, ethics, ceremonies, science, commerce (including the production of porcelain and silkworm breeding), language, and writing systems. The work also includes an account and map of Captain Vitus Bering’s 1725 – 1728 voyage off eastern Siberia.
The book was an immediate success and was quickly added to all academic libraries and issued in various translations. It had a significant impact on European society in the 18th century, and philosophers of the Enlightenment drew from it on their thoughts and controversies about religions, cultures, and customs. It’s regarded as “the first definitive European work on the Chinese Empire” (Hill).
Cordier, Sinica 50; Cox I, 355; De Backer & Sommervogel IV, 37; Hill 498 (3rd English); Lada-Mocarski 2; Löwendahl 394 ("Bible of European Sinophlia"; Lust, Western Books on China 15; Tooley, Maps and Mapmakers.
, Size: Folio., Illustration: Translated from the French by Richard Brookes.
65 plates: vol. 1 with 37, vol. 2 with 28. Vol 1: includes d’Anville’s “A Map Of China, Chinese Tartary And The Kingdom Of Corea,” and additional map of Tibet, both maps beautifully handcoloured, as well as two copies of “Province 15: Quey-Chew”; map of “Province 12: Quang-Tong” lacking. The map of Korea in vol. 2 is handcoloured., Volume: 2 volumes. , Pages: Vol. 1: Blank. Frontispiece of Confucius. Title. Blank. Dedication (2). Translator’s preface (8). A Dissertation Concerning Mr. d’Anville’s General Map… (ix – xi). Plate index. Plates (2). Du Halde’s Preface (i – xii). Contents (2). Plate. P. 1 – 678. Vol. 2: Title. Blank. Advertisement. Contents. P. 1 – 388. Index (10)., Category: Book Voyages General; Book Asia Far East;. Very good example of this monumental work on China. Interior is clean and crisp. Item #B6784