Chinese voyages to the West, based on Chinese sources, presentation copy

Bretschneider, (Emil). Notes on Chinese Mediaeval Travellers to the West.

Shanghai, London, American Presbyterian Mission Press, Trübner, 1875.

8vo. (2), II, (1), (1 blank), 130 pp. With numerous Chinese characters in text and 3 wood engraved illustrations in text. Contemporary blind- and gold-blocked cloth.


First separately published edition of a work on Chinese travellers from the 13th century by the Baltic physician and sinologist Emil Bretschneider (1833-1901). The book opens with a preface and an introduction, followed by four chapters, each devoted to a different Chinese traveller or voyage to the west. Bretschneider starts each chapter with a brief introduction, followed by a translation of Chinese sources including many Chinese characters, mostly for Chinese names, cities, rivers, mountains, etc. The first chapter deals with the travels of the Taoist monk Qiu Chuji (1148-1227), who travelled to Persia and India in the years 1221-1224 to meet the Mongol Khan. The second chapter narrates the journey of a Mongol embassy, dispatched in 1259 to west Asia, and chapter three is an "account of Western countries", written by an envoy of the Chinese Jin dynasty around 1220. He describes the customs and culture of the "Mohameddans" he meets in the west, probably describing the city Herat in Afghanistan. The fourth and last chapter describes partly the travels of the Khitan statesman Yelü Chucai, who served Genghis Khan, to present-day Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The book closes with some corrections and an appendix. Bretschneider mentions in his preface that the text was first published in the Chinese recorder and missionary journal. Bretschneider worked at Beijing from 1866 tot 1883 as doctor to the Russian Legation. "His writings both on botany and geography are extremely valuable" (Couling), most of them dealing with China.

Presentation copy, with a note by the author to "V. Gauvain" in ink on first flyleaf. Title-page with some faint damp stains, otherwise in very good condition.


Cordier (Sinica) 2667. Couling 64.

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