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TU Berlin

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Clockwork and the Jesuit Experience in China

Catherine Pagani (University of Alabama)

The history of Western-style clockwork in China is inextricably connected to the Jesuit presence at court. Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) gave the first mechanical clock to the Chinese emperor in 1601; from that time, elaborate timepieces figured prominently.

This study examines the Jesuit contribution to clockmaking in China by offering a new interpretation of the mechanical clock within this inter-cultural context. The issues surrounding the introduction and development of clockmaking parallel the success.

This study utilises both Chinese and European archival material to provide new information on the Jesuit contribution to clockmaking in China and in so doing will shed light on our understanding of the complex set of interactions between cultures in China.

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