Xu Guangqi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Xu Guangqi
徐光啟

Servant of God
徐光啟.jpg
Portrait of Xu Guangqi.
Born (1562-04-24)April 24, 1562
Shanghai County, Songjiang Prefecture, Southern Zhili, Ming Dynasty China[1]
Died November 8, 1633(1633-11-08) (aged 71)[2]
Beijing, Shuntian Prefecture, Northern Zhili, Ming Dynasty China
Resting place
Guangqi Park, Xujiahui, Xuhui District, Shanghai Municipality, China
Residence Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin
Nationality Chinese
Other names Paulo Xu[dubious ] (Baptismal Name)[3]
Ethnicity Han
Citizenship Ming Dynasty
Education Jinshi Degree (1604)[3]
Occupation scholar-official (Deputy Prime Minister of the Cabinet and Minister of Rites)
Employer Wanli Emperor, Taichang Emperor, Tianqi Emperor, Chongzhen Emperor
Home town Shanghai
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Wu[4]
Children Xu Ji (徐驥)[4]
Parents Xu Sicheng (徐思誠) (father)[5]
Relatives

Candida Xu (granddaughter)[6] (Xu Zhun)[7]

(Xu Maheux)[7]
Xu Guangqi
Simplified Chinese 徐光启
Traditional Chinese 徐光啟
Literal meaning Xú (surname) Light-enlightenment

Xu Guangqi (simplified Chinese: 徐光启; traditional Chinese: 徐光啟; pinyin: Xú Guāngqǐ; April 24, 1562 – November 8, 1633), who later adopted the baptismal name Paul (simplified Chinese: 保禄; traditional Chinese: 保祿), was a Chinese scholar-bureaucrat, agricultural scientist, astronomer, and mathematician in the Ming Dynasty. Xu was a colleague and collaborator of the Italian Jesuits Matteo Ricci and Sabatino de Ursis and they translated several classic Western texts into Chinese, including part of Euclid's Elements. He was also the author of the Nong Zheng Quan Shu, one of the first comprehensive treatises on the subject of agriculture. He was one of the "Three Pillars of Chinese Catholicism". His current title is Servant of God.[8]

Early life[edit]

Xu Guangqi was born into a relatively poor family in Shanghai on April 24, 1562.[9] His father, Xu Sicheng, was in difficult financial situation when Guangqi was a child, and had to support the family with a small vegetable farm, but apparently still earned enough to be able to send his son to school at the age of six.[10] Xu received the equivalent of his bachelor's degree at nineteen, but did not receive higher degrees until his thirties. Afterwards, he spent the majority of his time in positions of high office serving the Ming court.[11] When he died, he held positions of Deputy Prime Minister of the Cabinet (内阁次辅) and Minister of Rites (礼部尚书) (minister of culture, education, foreign affairs, etc.). He lived in a period when Chinese mathematics had gone into decline. The earlier efforts at algebra had been almost forgotten. Xu blamed some of the failures on a decline in interest of practical science in China and became something of a critic of Chinese society.

The Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci (left) and the Chinese mathematician Xu Guangqi (right) in an image from Athanasius Kircher's China Illustrata, published in 1667. The Chinese edition of Euclid's Elements (幾何原本), was printed in 1607.

He was a colleague and collaborator of Matteo Ricci, the Italian Jesuit. Together they translated several classic Western texts (most notably part of Euclid's Elements) into Chinese, as well as several Chinese Confucian texts into Latin.[12] Ricci's influence led to Xu being baptized as a Roman Catholic in 1603, under the name "Paul Siu". His descendants remained as Catholics and Christians into the 21st century[citation needed].

From 1607 until 1610, Xu was forced to retire from public office, and returned to his home in Shanghai. It was during this time that he experimented with Western-style irrigation methods.[11] He also experimented with the cultivation of sweet potatoes, cotton, and the nu zhen tree.[11] He was called once more to serve the Chinese bureaucracy, where he rose to a high rank and became known late in his career simply as "The Minister".[12] Yet he continued to experiment and learn of new agricultural practices while he served his office, promoting the use of wet-rice in the Northeast of China.[11] From 1613 until 1620 he often visited Tianjin, where he helped organize self-sufficient military settlements (tun tian).[11]

Tomb of Xu Guangqi at Guangqi Park, Xujiahui, Xuhui District, Shanghai

Xu Guangqi's tomb still exists in Shanghai in Guangqi Park just a short walk from the Xujiahui Cathedral in the Xujiahui area on Nandan Road (南丹路).

Work[edit]

Military sciences[edit]

Xu Guangqi's work on military matters Cook Xu's words.

Xu Guangxi was especially worried about the ability of his country to defend itself, especially in the face of the threat of invasion from the Manchus. He wrote a book on military techniques and strategies entitled Cook Xu's Words in response to the criticisms he faced for daring discuss military matters in spite of being a mere scholar.[13]

Xu Guangqi put forward the concept of a "Rich country and strong army" (富国強兵), which would be adopted by Japan for its modernization in the end of the 19th century, under the name Fukoku Kyohei.

Mathematics[edit]

In 1607, Xu and Ricci translated the first parts of Euclid's Elements into Chinese, introducing his countrymen to new concepts in mathematics and Western logic. Chinese scholars credit Xu as having "started China's enlightenment".[12]

Astronomy[edit]

Introduction to Astronomy, translated by Xu guangqi, and edited by Li Zhizao.

After followers of Xu and Ricci publicly predicted a solar eclipse in 1629, Xu was appointed by the Emperor as the leader of an effort to reform the Chinese calendar. The reform, which constituted the first major collaboration between scientists from Europe and from the Far East, was completed after his death.[12]

Agriculture[edit]

Xu Guangqi wrote the Nong Zheng Quan Shu, an outstanding agricultural treatise that followed in the tradition of those such as Wang Zhen (wrote the Wang Zhen Nong Shu of 1313 AD) and Jia Sixia (wrote the Chi Min Yao Shu of 535 AD).[14] Like Wang Zhen, Xu lived in troubled times, and was devoted as a patriot to aiding the rural farmers of China.[11] His main interests were in irrigation, fertilizers, famine relief, economic crops, and empirical observation with early notions of chemistry.[11] It was an enormous written work, some 700,000 written Chinese characters, making it 7 times as large as the work of both Jia Sixia and Wang Zhen.[15] Although its final draft was unfinished by Xu Guangqi by the time of his death in 1633, the famous Jiangnan scholar Chen Zilung assembled a group of scholars to edit the draft, publishing it in 1639.[15]

Letter of Xu Quangxi to the King of Portugal, in Latin.

The topics covered by his book are as follows:[15]

  • The Fundamentals of Agriculture (Nong Ben): quotations from the classics on the importance of encouraging agriculture
  • Field System (Tian Zhi): land distribution, field management
  • Agricultural Tasks (Nong Shi): clearing land, tilling; also a detailed exposition on settlement schemes
  • Water Control (Shui Li): various methods of irrigation, types of irrigation equipment, and the last two chapters devoted to new Western-style irrigation equipment
  • Illustrated Treatise on Agricultural Implements (Nong Chi Tu Pu): based largely on Wang Zhen's book of 1313 AD
  • Horticulture (Shi Yi): vegetables and fruit
  • Sericulture (Can Sang): silk production
  • Further Textile Crops (Can Sang Guang Lei): cotton, hemp, etc.
  • Silviculture (Chong Chi): forestry preservation
  • Animal Husbandry (Mu Yang)
  • Culinary Preparations (Zhi Zao)
  • Famine Control (Huang Zheng): administrative measures, famine flora

Family[edit]

Xu Guangqi (bottom left) and Candida Xu (bottom right), along with three Jesuits (Ricci, Schall, and Verbiest – top row)

Xu Guangqi's granddaughter, Candida Xu (Chinese: 徐甘第大Xu Gandida) (1607–1680), a devout Christian, was recognized as an important patron of Christianity in Jiangnan during the early Qing era. The Jesuit Philippe Couplet, who worked closely with her, authored her biography, which was originally written in Latin, and published in a French translations as Histoire d'une dame chrétienne de la Chine, Candide Hiu (1688).[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Ad Dudink, “Xu Guangqi's Career: An Annotated Chronology” in Catherine Jami, Peter Engelfriet, & Gregory Blue, editors, Statecraft and Intellectual Renewal in Late Ming China: The Cross Cultural Synthesis of Xu Guangqi (1562–1633) (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 399.
  2. ^ Ad Dudink, “Xu Guangqi's Career: An Annotated Chronology” in Catherine Jami, Peter Engelfriet, & Gregory Blue, editors, Statecraft and Intellectual Renewal in Late Ming China: The Cross Cultural Synthesis of Xu Guangqi (1562–1633) (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 409.
  3. ^ a b Liam Matthew Brockey, Journey to the East: The Jesuit Mission to China, 1579–1724 (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008), 59.
  4. ^ a b Ad Dudink, “Xu Guangqi's Career: An Annotated Chronology” in Catherine Jami, Peter Engelfriet, & Gregory Blue, editors, Statecraft and Intellectual Renewal in Late Ming China: The Cross Cultural Synthesis of Xu Guangqi (1562–1633) (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 400.
  5. ^ Timothy Brook claims Xu's father's name was 'Xu Sicheng' (徐思誠), but provides no sources. Timothy Brook, “Xu Guangqi in His Context: The World of the Shanghai Gentry” in Catherine Jami, Peter Engelfriet, & Gregory Blue, editors, Statecraft and Intellectual Renewal in Late Ming China: The Cross Cultural Synthesis of Xu Guangqi (1562–1633) (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 93.
  6. ^ Liam Matthew Brockey, Journey to the East: The Jesuit Mission to China, 1579–1724 (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008), 140.
  7. ^ a b Liam Matthew Brockney, Journey to the East: The Jesuit Mission to China, 1579–1724 (cambridge: The Belknap press of Harvard University Press , 2008),140.
  8. ^ Roman Catholic Diocese of Shanghai: 徐光启列品案筹备进程
  9. ^ Timothy Brook, “Xu Guangqi in His Context: The World of the Shanghai Gentry” in Catherine Jami, Peter Engelfriet, & Gregory Blue, editors, Statecraft and Intellectual Renewal in Late Ming China: The Cross Cultural Synthesis of Xu Guangqi (1562–1633) (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 93.
  10. ^ Timothy Brook claims Xu's father's name was 'Xu Sicheng' (徐思誠), but provides no sources. Timothy Brook, “Xu Guangqi in His Context: The World of the Shanghai Gentry” in Catherine Jami, Peter Engelfriet, & Gregory Blue, editors, Statecraft and Intellectual Renewal in Late Ming China: The Cross Cultural Synthesis of Xu Guangqi (1562–1633) (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 93–94.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Needham, Volume 6, Part 2, 65.
  12. ^ a b c d Stone (2007)
  13. ^ Xu Guangqi Memorial Hall permanent exhibit
  14. ^ Needham, Volume 6, Part 2, 64–65.
  15. ^ a b c Needham, Volume 6, Part 2, 66.
  16. ^ Mungello, David E. (1989). Curious Land: Jesuit Accommodation and the Origins of Sinology. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 253–254. ISBN 0-8248-1219-0. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Needham, Joseph (1959). Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 3, Mathematics and the Sciences of the Heavens and the Earth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; reprinted: Taipei: Caves Books, 1986. OCLC
  • Needham, Joseph (1984). Francesa Bray. Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 6, Biology and Biological Technology, Part 2: Agriculture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; reprinted: Taipei: Caves Books, 1986.
  • Zhao, Jikai, "Xu Guangqi". Encyclopedia of China (Economics Edition), 1st ed.
  • Mei, Rongzhao, "Xue Guangqi". Encyclopedia of China (Mathematics Edition), 1st ed.
  • Stone, Richard (2007). "Scientists Fete China's Supreme Polymath", Science 318, 733.

External links[edit]