ANDRADE, Antonio de (1580-1634); KIRWITZER, Wenceslas Pantaleon. Lettere annue del Tibet del MDCXXVI. E della Cina del MDCXXIV. Rome: Francesco Corbelletti, 1628.
8vo (6 x 3 3⁄4 in.; 15.2 x 9.5 cm). Woodcut Jesuit device on title-page,
woodcut initials, without the errata leaf as common; first few leaves
lightly browned. Old vellum over paste-board, yapp edges.
EARLY EUROPEAN EXPLORATION OF TIBET. First Italian edition, and AN ATTRACTIVE COPY. Dated Caparangue, (i.e. Tsaparang), August 15th, 1626, the first of the two letters printed in this small volume recounts Andrade's second visit to Tibet between 1625 and 1626. Born in the small town of Oleiros, Portugal, in 1580, Andrade entered the order of the Society of Jesus in 1596. Between 1600 and 1624 he was the Jesuit's chief missionary in the Indies, establishing a permanent mission in Agra. His greatest triumph for the church and for the history of exploration was undoubtedly his "discovery" of Tibet in 1624. Geographically and politically inaccessible, Tibet was for many centuries a mystery to European explorers, the subject of myth and legend and persistent rumor that beyond the Himalayan mountains lay secluded Christian communities, the remnants of early evangelizing missions. Andrade and his
companion, Manuel Marques, began their long and arduous journey from Agra in the company of pilgrims in March of 1624. Reaching Delhi they donned Hindu disguises and travelled through the valley of Ganges to Hardwar "the Gate of Vishnu", to Srinagar in Garhwal, Badrinath and finally through the perilous Mana Pass to Tsaparang in August. They soon discovered that the rumours of Christian communities were untrue and they were treated with great kindness by the people and the King and Queen of Guge, who gave him a passport, or letter of privilege, allowing him safe passage to Agra with permission to recruit fellow Jesuits for a mission in Caparangue. The permanent mission arrived in August 1625. Andrade was eventually recalled to Goa where he died of poisoning shortly before the permanent mission at Tsaparang failed in 1635. The second longer letter by is by the Bohemian Jesuit Kirwitzer, who died in Macao in 1626, is a report on the state of China and the Jesuit missions there.
REFERENCES: Catholic Encyclopedia online. DBS I, 331 and 1084; Streit V, 306; not in Lust. # 72lib4