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Zhuqi tushuo 諸器圖說

Author:Wang Zheng 王徵 (1571–1644)
Imprint:Yangzhou 揚州 : s.n., [1627]
Language:Chinese 中文
Format:Book

Zhuqi tushuo 諸器圖說 (Illustrations and Explanations of Various Machines) is a brief description of machines (primarily agricultural) built or adapted by Wang Zheng himself based on European mechanical devices he learned of in his collaboration on the Qiqi tushuo 奇器圖說 (Illustrations and Explanations of Wonderful Machines) with Johann [Terrenz] Schreck. That text presented, for the first time to a Chinese audience, the principles of Western mechanical engineering and their various applications. Joseph Needham declared Wang Zheng as “decisively the first modern Chinese engineer, indeed a man of the Renaissance, though far from its birthplace.” Cf. Science and Civilisation in China, IV/2 (1965), p. 171, note (i)
Needham’s study of these early works on technology led him to conclude that the Jesuits had introduced at least ten machines which had no Chinese predecessors: the crankshaft, Archimedean screw and worm gear for raising water, the Ctesibian double force pump which came to be used extensively as a fire-engine in Chinese cities .... the oblique axis windmill that may have been derived from a 17th century Dutch originals where they turned Archimedean screws directly attached to the windshaft ....Cf. Standaert, Handbook of Christianity in China, p. 779, 842, 848.


Jesuit Archives (ARSI) JapSin II, 53.2
Zhuqi tushuo 諸器圖說
By Wang Zheng 王徵 (1571–1644).
One juan. Bamboo paper. No date or place of publication.

There is a preface in four folios by Wang Zheng himself, dated Tianqi 6 (1626). Folio 1 (by mistake placed after folio 9) contains a short note entitled: Xinzhuang zhuqi tu xiaox 新裝諸器圖小序 (A short preface to the newly compiled Zhuqii tu). At the end of preface there are two wooden carved seals in cursive style: 王徵之印 and 壬戌進士 (jinshi of 1622). The last column of folio 1 reads: “Wu Weizhong 武位中, sub-official of the said department respectfully copied [the manuscript],” followed by two wooden carved seals in cursive style: 位中之印 and 字國寶. The same two seals are found at the end of the postscript: 奇器圖後序, written by Wu Weizhong 武位中, then Assistant Instructor at the Confucian school in Yangzhou 揚州儒學順導 dated Chongzhen 1 (1628).

Folio 1 gives the title of the book: 新裝諸器圖說 the name of the author: 關西王徵著 and the collator (Wu Weizhong) 金陵武位中較梓. The character jiao 較 is used instead of 校 to avoid the taboo on the name of the Tianqi emperor, whose name was Zhu Youjiao 朱由校 (1605–1627). Hence one can conclude that the book was published in the late Ming period.

There are nine columns to each half folio with eighteen characters to each column. The title is given in the middle of each folio with the number of the folio below the fish-tail. The last column of folio 21v gives the date (1627) and the author: 時天啟柒年關中了一道於望天軒中.

John Terence, the Jesuit missionary of mathematical celebrity, has left a treatise on machinery with the title 奇器圖說 K’ê k’ê t’oô shwo, which he translated orally from a European work, while it was put into the literary form by 王徵 Wâng Ch’ing, a native scholar, and published in 1627. It begins with a short disquisition on the principles of mechanics, which is followed by an illustrated explanation of the mechanical powers, after which are a series of plates of machines, exemplifying the principles laid down. These are intended to illustrate: Raising Weights, Drawing Weights, Turning Weights, Drawing Water, Turning Mills, Sawing Timber, Sawing Stone, Pounding, Revolving Bookstands, Water Dials, Plowing, and Fire Engines, fifty-four plates in all, each of which is accompanied by a short description. The European alphabet is introduced in the preliminary remarks. There is another book by Wâng Ch’ing, generally published along with Terence’s, having the title 諸器圖說 Choo k’é t’oô shwo, which treats native machinery and is illustrated with eleven plates with descriptions (Wylie, pp. 144–145).
Hsü Tsung-tse [Xu Zongze] (1949, p. 296) tells that Wang Zheng knew a European language (西文). In his preface (Yuanxi qiqi tushuo luzui 遠西奇器圖說錄最 Wang Zheng said: “Formerly when I was [living] in my village I was taught by Mr. Jin Sibiao 金四表 [Nicolas Trigault] the twenty-five signs of the Western alphabet, and we published the Xiru ermu zi. I more or less learned the pronunciation. However, I am at a loss when it comes to the meaning of a full text . . .” (Hsü 1949, p. 297).

Cf. ECCP 2:807–808; Pfister, pp. 156–157, no. 3; Feng 1938, p. 185; Hsü 1949, pp. 295–299; SKTY 3:2398–2399; Courant 5661; Couplet p. 18.

Source: Albert Chan, S.J., Chinese Books and Documents in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, pp. 357-358.