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.


Both the Portuguese and Dutch traders utilized the port of Nagasaki as their entry point into the Japanese market.

Jesuit missionaries used their scientific and mathematical knowledge to construct accurate maps of the places they visited. These were widely disseminated.

Jesuits studied philosophy and theology, and utilized the ancient classics. The textbook of Aristotelian teachings, used especially at Coimbra, was later translated into Chinese.

Louis XIV appointed as his mathematicians Guy Tachard (1648-1712) and five others and sent them to Asia. Their journey included Thailand (Siam).