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.


Jesuits sought a route safer than the maritime way, and this took them across the top of the world.

This was the Dutch East Indies Company’s launch pad into East Asian trade. Its original name was Jakarta.

Jesuit missionaries began translating the Confucian canon in 1583. The first work that transmitted this knowledge to Europe was published in Paris in 1687.

Catholic missionaries at the Chinese imperial court both annotated the music they heard there and introduced Western style music as well.