Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jesuit Missions And Astronomy In 18th Century China

Fr. Karel Slavíček, S.J(here) and (here) (Karl Slavicek, S.J.) or (Carolus Slavicek, S.J.) an astronomer and mathematician from Jimramov (today's Czech Republic), came to Beijing from Lisbon, Portugal as a Jesuit missionary in 1714. "Slavíček was on a mission; not only in the real sense of the word as a religious missionary, but also on a mission of creating a bridge between the cultures of Europe and China," Sečka said in his opening speech. 
In 1722, many Jesuits were expelled to Canton, China, but Slavíček's scientific merit allowed him to stay in Beijing. He defended Chinese astronomy, especially the sixty-year cycle, which is the basis of the Chinese calendar, and said that China was the most educated and civilized nation of his time. 
The exhibit, which shows Slavíček's translated letters and works, will be on display in the second hall of the observatory for the next three months. Veronika Musilová, third secretary of the Embassy of the Czech Republic to China, said that the exhibit took several tedious months to complete. She said she hopes the exhibit will spark interest in others to visit observatories in the Czech Republic and harbor more Czech-Chinese cooperation.
Link (here) to

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