The descriptions of Sicily in Chinese travel diaries and geographic works from Song dynasty to Qing dynasty
Contributor(s)INALCO (Institut National del Langues et Civilisations Orientales), BULAC (Bibliothèque Universitaire des Langues et Civilisations)
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AbstractNAME: Renata Vinci ISTITUTION: University for Foreigners of Siena TITLE: The Chinese descriptions of Sicily from Song dynasty to Qing dynasty KEY WORDS (max 5): Sicily, travellers, missionaries, diaries, Geography. TOPICS: Literature (pre-modern) Chinese literature is full of ancient travellers’ accounts and geographical treatise: Chinese merchants and diplomats reached Western countries reporting their experiences, while Christian missionaries wished to describe their words to Chinese people. In this literary context, I conducted a strict research focused on the descriptions of Sicily circulating in China. The first description is also the first description of an Italian region appeared in the Middle Kingdom. It was written by the Inspector of Foreign Sea-Trade of Fujian Zhao Rugua in his pilot’s book, the Zhu fan zhi (1225). Since then a considerable number of accounts has been produced. First of all the Uighur Nestorian Christian monk Rabban Sauma, left his homeland to undertake a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and became ambassador of the Patriarch to Europe, crossing the Strait of Messina and writing about the Etna eruption in 1287. After his journey the following descriptions are excerpted from the Western Jesuits and Protestants missionaries’ geographical and commercial treatises and maps: Ricci, Aleni, Verbiest, Gützlaff, Muirhead, all wrote about Sicily, inspiring the XIXth century Chinese geographical encyclopaedias compilers. Their words are actually quoted or resumed by Wei Yuan and Xu Jiyu. Afterwards, with the ending of the Opium War and the Unequal Treaties stipulation, China was forced to send diplomatic missions abroad. Among the great series of diplomatic and commercial envoys to the West, descriptions of Sicily can be found into the following travellers’ account: Binchun’s Chengcha biji, Zhang Deyi’s Hanghai shuqi and Suishi Faguo ji, Wang Tao’s Manyou suilu, Hong Xun’s Youli Yidali wenjian lu. The continuously growing availability of news and information about the West developed the interest of some more open-minded scholars who started accepting the cultural, social and political influence of the West. This study surprisingly showed how Sicily appears in some of the works of the two important writers and innovators Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao. Effectively Liang Qichao, took Sicily and the Sicilian people’s experience and contribution to the Italian unification process as a model and source of inspiration for Chinese people to obtain independence from the foreign oppression.