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Publisher: DU HALDE, J.-B.
Title: Description geographique, historique, chronologique, politique, et physique de l'empire de la Chine et de la Tartarie chinoise . . . du Thibet, & de la Coree. . .
Published: The Hague, H. Scheurleer, 1736

Size: 22.0 x 16.1 inches.
56.0 x 41.0 cm.
Colouring: Uncoloured.
Condition:  4 volumes, 4to (257 x 196mm.), titles printed in red and black with engraved vignettes, 11 engraved vignette illustrations and 51 plates (of 53), a number folding, contemporary half calf, spines gilt with morocco labels, [Löwendahl 398], without the separately published atlas, lacking 2 plates in vol.2 (Obseques at p.149 and Gin seng at p.180), one plate torn without loss (vol.1, p.230), d4 vol.1 with short tear and slight stain, bindings slightly rubbed and slightly worn.
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These volumes accompany Bourguignon d'Anville's Nouvel atlas de la Chine, de la Tartarie chinoise et du Thibet. of 1737. First quarto edition, with a new preface and bibliography, first published in Paris the previous year in a folio edition.
The illustrations are reduced versions of the plates of the first edition and fine engravings of Chinese life including city plans, ceremonies, artisans at work, costumes, etc.
Du Halde became a Jesuit in 1708, and was commissioned by his superiors to bring together the published and manuscript accounts of Jesuit travelers in China. He first began by editing much of the comprehensive "Lettres édifiantes et curieuses écrites des missions étrangères" (1702-1776), one of the most important sources for Jesuit missionary activities in the 18th century.
His later "Le Description " includes reports of 27 Jesuit missionaries, all listed in the preface, and covers every aspect of Chinese life and culture. The first printed account of Vitus Bering's first expedition to Alaska in 1725-1728, is included in volume four: "The original report traveled a circuitous route to fall into Du Halde's hands.

The Danish Vitus Bering (1681-1741) had entered the Russian navy as a young man and risen through the ranks. His expedition was sponsored by the Russian Czar Peter the Great. When Bering returned to St. Petersburg in 1730, five years after the death of Peter the Great, his account and an accompanying map were sent as a gift to the King of Poland, who gave them to Du Halde with permission to do with them "as he saw fit". In this way the first account of Bering's important exploration was published in France rather than in Russia, where the full narrative was not published until several years later".

Reference: Henri Cordier, Dict. bibl. des ouvrages relatifs a l'Empire chinois, 1881, t. . p. 31..

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Item category: Asia | China

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Item category: Asia | China

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