Craftsmen Working for Kangxi: the “Invention of Curious Things” by the Jesuits Gabriel de Magalhães (1609–1677) and Tomás Pereira (1646–1708)

In: Ming Qing Yanjiu
Maria João Pereira Coutinho Universidade NOVA de Lisboa Lisboa Portugal

Search for other papers by Maria João Pereira Coutinho in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



This essay focuses on the strategy followed by two Jesuits from the Portuguese Padroado, Gabriel de Magalhães and Tomás Pereira, to remain at the court in Beijing at a time when the effects of ethnic and cultural clashes between Han and Manchus were felt, as were those of the natural disasters that devastated China and battered its economy. While the first excelled as a locksmith, the second, who called himself a craftsman, had the ability to draw and could build musical instruments, write music and teach to play instruments. Both managed to create works reconciling art and mechanics, which greatly impressed the Kangxi Emperor. These objects were visually appealing, but they also showed the knowledge these Jesuits active in Beijing had about some European treatises on art and mechanics, namely in the area of hydraulics. By adapting European forms and techniques to Chinese materials both men met Kangxi’s plan of a dynasty open to other cultures, while assuring the “peaceful coexistence” of Jesuits in China, in an age marked by climate change and ethnic clashes.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 298 242 28
Full Text Views 11 10 0
PDF Views & Downloads 38 34 0