Explore East-West cross-cultural exchange
as found in rare books written about China
by Jesuit missionaries

About the Books

The Jesuitana Collection contains more than 2,500 volumes published by or about the Jesuits prior to the order’s suppression in 1773. It documents the significant contributions of Jesuits to a wide range of disciplines in the early modern period, including in the fields of mathematics, science, history, travel, philosophy and Biblical exegesis. Here are 13 important books from the collection. All of them deal with east-west cultural exchange.

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Although based at the Roman College, Kircher used missionary writings to compile this work about China’s geography, flora and fauna.


The Italian Jesuit Martino Martini (1614-1661) was an historian and cartographer whose writings about China became influential throughout Europe. He was based in Hangzhou.

Jesuit histories were translated into many languages. Here Bouvet’s description of the Kangxi Emperor is attached to a report on Russia.

Malacca’s strategic position along the narrow straits meant sultans and princes, kings and Company captains all wanted to control it.

Portuguese vessels needed a place to refuel after rounding the Cape of Good Hope. Mozambique provided this safe haven.