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Chinese History - Ming period religion

Periods of Chinese History
The Arrival of Christianity

The first Europeans in Eastern Asia (except the travelers in the Mongol empire) were Portuguese and Dutch merchants and missionaries (modern Chinese histories call them maoxianjia 冒險家 "adventurers"; the Portuguese and Spaniards were simply called "Folangji 佛郎機- Franks", the Dutch were called "Hongmaoyi 紅毛夷 - Red Haired Barbarians"). Portuguese merchants obtained the permission to install a settlement in Macao (Chinese: Aomen 澳; Macao was returned to China only in 1999). From this point, missionaries advanced step by step to the north. The Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci (Chinese: Li Madou 李馬竇) founded parishes in Nanchang 南昌/Jiangxi, Nanjing and finally in Beijing. To win the upper class for the cause of Christianity, Ricci adopted Chinese customs, learned to write in literary Chinese, and accepted the Chinese ancestor veneration. But there was also another reason why Ricci did not alter Chinese customs: some wordings in the Confucian Classics seemed to be a proof that the Chinese were a people of the Bible. The main reason for Ricci's success in attracting the class of educated officials was the advanced Western technology he brought with him. In total, the missionaries had only little success in China, although Chinese believers were found in all social groups, from the urban populace and the peasants up to literates and officials like Yang Tingyun 楊廷筠. But from the begin, Christianity had deep problems especially with two items: the ancestor veneration - making a kind of Saint or God from one's own forefathers -, and the fear of the ruling class that Christian believers could be a source of rebellion like the many religion-lead peasant uprising in the course of Chinese history.

2000ff. © Ulrich Theobald · Mail

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