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Letters (including an annual report) on Jesuit missions in Japan and China 1588-1590

COELHO, Gaspar.
Lettere del Giapone, et della Cina de gl'anni M.D.LXXXIX & M.D.XC. Scritte al R.P. Generale della Compagnia di Giesu.
Rome, [Giacomo Tornieri for?] Luigi Zannetti, 1591. 8vo. 17th-century limp vellum.
€ 14,500
First edition of one long and eight short letters written from 1588 to 1590 by Jesuit missionaries in Japan, reporting on the extremely confusing political and religious situation there and elsewhere in Asia. Six of the letters primarily concern Japan, two China and one the East Indies. The kampaku (imperial regent) Toyotomi Hideyoshi (ca. 1536-1598), the de facto ruler of Japan, officially banished Christianity from Japan in 1587, but active persecutions were just beginning in the first few years and the anti-Christian legislation was not yet generally enforced, giving the Jesuits a fairly free hand to continue their activities. The present reports were written from Arima (Kobe), Omura, Firando/Hirado and Goto (Nagasaki), Amakusa (Kumamoto), Bungo/Hoshu (Kyushu) , Meaco/Kyoto, and Yamaguchi.
The Portuguese Jesuit missionary Gaspar Coelho (1531-1590) wrote the longest and one of the shorter letters. Though one of the most astute observers of political activities in Japan, he proved naïve in his interpretation of them. Other writers and sources cited for information include Luis Fróis, Antonio d'Almeyda, Duarte de Sande, Egidio della Matta and Franciscus Pires.
With a few repairs in the gutter margin, minor foxing and occasional, mostly marginal, stains, but otherwise in good condition. The sewing is somewhat loose, the vellum slightly wrinkled and stained, with a few small worm holes.
Alt-Japan Kat. 815; Cordier, Japonica, cols. 115-116; USTC 832503; for background: C.R. Boxer, Christian Century in Japan (1951); Lach & Van Kley, Asia I, p. 305 & passim.
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Related Subjects:

Asia  >  Japan & Far East
Early printing & manuscripts  >  Asia & Middle East | Religion & Devotion
Religion & devotion  >  Church History & Missions | Jesuits