THE GREAT CHINESE TRAVELLERS by Jeanette - Ed. Mirsky

THE GREAT CHINESE TRAVELLERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Although they were generally unaware of it, the scores of Western explorers during the Age of Discovery did not venture into uncharted territory. More often than not, the wayfaring Chinese had been there long before them, and their extensive, impersonal records were long since important parts of the vast dynastic archives of China. Whether sent by the Emperor on a political mission or prompted by religious zeal, the Chinese wanderers invariably brought back information--precious minutiae about customs, eligion, politics, habits in the countries they visited, always in the same laconic one that played down the personal travel adventures and heightened the descriptive panorama of the unknown. In this sampling from three millenia of journeying, the ost delightful and historically important observations are included: Emperor Mu's early chronicles from outer China; ""The Great Traveler,"" Chang Ch'ien's ambassadorial rek to Bactria that brought Buddhist East and Hellenic West into cultural contact; suan-Tsang, the ""Prince of Pilgrims,"" and his travels for Buddhist love; a Taoist ystic's memorable visit to the Mongol court of Chingiz Khan; a Nestorian Christian onk's pilgrimage to Jerusalem; sundry Chinese mariners on all the seven seas and even the more recent, nineteenth-century remarks from scholars, students and ambassadors to the West. There were many more, but the selection here is interesting and representative; the introductions by the well-qualified editor add to the background information. Excellent source material, showing the Chinese travelers at work making history as early practitioners of a shrinking world.

Publisher: Pantheon