Zhu Zhenru: Why was Western Learning spread in the Qing Palace during the Prosperous Kang-Qian Period?

2022-04-20 0 By

Zhu Chenru: Why did western learning spread in the Qing Palace during the Prosperous Kang-Qian Period?China News Service, Beijing, March 14Question: Why did Western learning spread in the Qing Dynasty during the Prosperous Kang-Qian Period?The Palace Museum, with a history of more than 600 years, is a valuable traditional cultural heritage of the Chinese nation as well as a famous world cultural heritage.It has witnessed the development of China as a unified multi-ethnic country, bearing rich historical information and cultural imprint.But what most people don’t know is that the Palace Museum also carried out rich and varied scientific and cultural exchanges between China and the West in history.This period of sino-foreign interaction is of great significance in the history of human civilization.During the Prosperous Kang-Qian Period, Western learning was spread in the Qing Palace, where Chinese and Western science and technology and culture met.From the original hand-operated computer as a product of scientific and technological exchanges between the East and the West in the early Qing Dynasty, to the documentary works produced by western court painters, including “The Qianlong Emperor Reading”, these historical materials have become evidence for people to understand the history of 18th century China, and also witness the exchanges of human civilizations.The Kangxi Dynasty laid the foundation for the unification of the country, while the Yongzheng Dynasty carried out drastic reforms, culminating in the Qianlong Dynasty.Through the three dynasties, China strengthened the stable and effective governance of the border ethnic areas, and also communicated with the border ethnic groups and the Han nationality in the Central Plains, laying the foundation of the territory.The stable and unified political situation during kangyonggan period was conducive to the stable development of society.During this period, China witnessed a new situation of economic development and population growth.For the first time, China’s arable land exceeded 1 billion mu.During the Reign of Emperor Qianlong, the Treasury of the Ministry of Household kept 67 million liang of silver, which was one and a half times of the total annual fiscal revenue of the whole country, which was unprecedented in the history of Chinese finance.In the fifty-fifth year of the Reign of Emperor Qianlong (1790), the national population broke through 300 million. In less than 50 years, the population doubled and the total population reached an unprecedented peak.In a way, the Kangyonggan period laid the foundation of China’s population base and its position in the world population pattern.At the time, China was the world’s largest exporter of manufacturing products.According to dai Yi, an expert on the history of the Qing Dynasty, in the 18th century, there were 10 cities with a population of more than 500,000 in the world, of which six were in China.Urban development promoted manufacturing, and large quantities of Chinese porcelain, silk and tea were exported to Europe and Southeast Asia.In the 18th century, China’s share of the world’s total manufacturing output exceeded that of Europe.In the process of world economic globalization, China’s manufacturing industry made a great contribution at that time.The opening up of maritime traffic has brought about cultural exchanges between eastern and western countries that originally ran along different tracks.From the early Qing Dynasty to the Qianlong Period, France, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Britain, Russia and other countries sent a large number of missionaries and diplomatic missions to China.”Far Sail of the Silk Road” — the exhibition of fine cultural relics of the Maritime Silk Road attracts the public.The Maritime Silk Road was formed in the Qin and Han dynasties, developed from The Three Kingdoms to the Tang Dynasty, flourished in the Song and Yuan Dynasties, and transformed into the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It was an important shipping route for trade and friendly exchanges between the southeast coastal areas of ancient China and countries in East Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe and Africa.China’s strong national strength makes it both attractive and resilient, which is the foundation for cultural exchanges and mutual learning between China and the West.Compared with Paris, London, Moscow and Rome at that time, Beijing had obvious advantages in terms of city size, population, economic wealth and cultural prosperity.It should be said that the 18th century qing Dynasty capital Beijing, imperial palace Forbidden City and Europe appeared relatively open situation.The spread of Western learning in the Qing Dynasty is a witness to the history of human civilization. Originally, western missions and missionaries came to China as an advance party of the early western colonial expansion, but they also brought western religion, culture and scientific and technological concepts to China, making up for the shortcomings of Chinese intellectuals in geography, astronomy and mathematics.Churches built in Western style, such as the famous Catholic East, West, South and North four churches appeared in Beijing, letting people see another world.Jesuit missionaries began translating and publishing western books on astronomy, mathematics, and geography.Emperor Kangxi himself was familiar with ancient Chinese books, including celestial phenomena, geography, history, music, economy, horsemen and archery, medicine and Mongolian, Western regions and Latin languages.What is more remarkable is that he attached great importance to Western science and brought in Jesuit missionaries who knew western science (i.e., “skilled people”) to the Imperial Court to teach Western science in shifts every day.When emperor Kangxi went on tour, some Western scholars even accompanied him to make astronomical observations and geographical surveys.China had been able to draw maps for a long time, but there were no lines of latitude and longitude, and there were many errors in recording distances.Emperor Kangxi personally assigned the Chinese to work with Western scholars to map each province. It took 30 years to produce the Complete Map of the Emperor’s Geography, which was far more precise than that of previous generations.With the support of emperor Kangxi, the missionary Nan Huairen presided over the design and manufacture of the ecliptic theodolite, the equatorial theodolite and the celestial theodolite for the Beijing Observatory, and the missionary Ji Lian made a European-style horizon theodolite for the Observatory.These astronomical knowledge and techniques have promoted the development of astronomy in China.Tourists visit the Watch and Clock museum of the Palace Museum in Beijing.In the 18th century, the Qing court made extensive use of mechanical clocks and watches.Most of these clocks are made in Britain, but also in France, Switzerland and other western countries, as well as in China.China news agency reporters Du Yang perturbation emperor kangxi to Beijing, Mr. Zhang and bouvet learning French jesuit missionaries western mathematics, he presided over the mathematical essence of aggregates compared the western mathematics and Chinese traditional mathematics, not only analyzes the ancient Chinese mathematics, also absorbed was spread to China’s western mathematics knowledge, be on behalf of the Chinese mathematics was the highest level of work.Qianlong period began to pay attention to the introduction and imitation of mechanical clocks, the then advanced mechanical manufacturing technology used in the “robot”, clocks and watches set travel time, time, music, character activities and other functions in a body.This reflects the influence of European machinery manufacturing on China.In the communication between China and the West, apart from western scientific and technological knowledge, western art, especially painting art, also had a profound influence in the kangyonggan three generations.Italian Castiggio Castiggio came to China at the end of the Kangxi Dynasty and was employed as a court painter. After that, he worked in China for more than 50 years for three dynasties.He is good at painting emperor empress figures, rare birds and animals, strange flowers and different plants, can western painting and Chinese traditional brush and ink integration, painting style far-reaching.He left masterpieces such as “Qianlong Emperor Reading” and “100 Jun”, and was the famous court painter with the most works handed down in the Qing Dynasty.French painter Wang Zhicheng, Italian painter Andyi, Bohemian painter Ai Enlightenment and other artists who entered the court around Castigate were good at painting figures, portraits, animals, flowers and birds in oil paintings. They settled in the Qing Palace, known as the “four foreign painters”, and painted many documentistic paintings reflecting important historical events in the court and portraits of the empress.Visitors use a magnifying glass to view a suzhou embroidery work based on A Hundred Horses by Castigano.China news agency reporters Zhang hao taken daily from johann Adam schall von bell of the new law regarding instrument to verbiest armillary sphere, works from the western missionaries translated a large number of western scientific knowledge of organizing, to the foreign court painters of the realistic paintings handed down from ancient times, people from the west emperor kangxi study of mathematical sciences in the qing dynasty palace homemade hand computer, to the original exhaust raise computer later…These scientific instruments still preserved in and outside the palace show that the dissemination of western science and technology in the Qing Palace during the Kangyonggan period was of great value and significance.The exchange and mutual learning between Chinese and Western science and technology is a testimony to the history of human civilization.In the face of western advanced science and technology, the Qing Dynasty emperor was wise to accept and learn from it. However, he only learned a superficial knowledge and did not fundamentally change the concept of “the source of Western learning”. Advanced Western manufacturing technology did not take root in China.In front of the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the main hall of the Forbidden City, there are still sundials instead of advanced mechanical clocks.The documentary painting of Castiglio Castiglio and others is still at a disadvantage in front of Chinese freehand ink painting.The accumulation and inertia of history.At the same time, Western missions and missionaries also brought Chinese culture to the West, and China’s history and culture, astronomy and geography, mountains and rivers, and urban and rural life and customs attracted extensive attention from western academic circles.Exquisite ceramics and silk textiles became luxuries for western aristocrats, leading to the “Chinese style” and “China tide” in Europe in the 18th century.Visitors visit the exhibition “Gardens on Porcelain: The Impact of Chinese Gardens on Europe through Export Porcelain”.In the cultural exchanges between China and the West, the fine works of Chinese excellent traditional culture, especially traditional crafts, are the accumulation of thousands of years of cultural inheritance of the Chinese nation, with rich technological content.European missionaries and Russian trade groups learned Chinese ceramic making techniques and returned to China to copy them.Silk, dyeing and lacquerware also spread to Europe.Looking back at the history, the history of cultural exchanges and mutual learning between China and the West is inevitable in the course of human civilization.Due to the limitations of The Times and history, collisions and obstacles in communication are only temporary, so it is not necessary to judge the ancients with the standards of the present.In the context of globalization, international scientific and cultural exchanges need to be further promoted.About the author: Zhu Chenru: Deputy director of the National Compilation Committee of Qing History, chief editor of General History of China in the Qing Dynasty (new edition), professor and doctoral supervisor.He was president of Liaoning Normal University, vice president of the Palace Museum, director of the Academic Committee, professor and doctoral supervisor of the History Department of Peking University, and president of The Forbidden City Society of China.He is the leader of the evaluation group of major projects of the National Social Science Fund and the chief editor of the Multi-volume General History of the Qing Dynasty and The Pre-History of the Qing Dynasty.Source: Chinanews.com