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Very rare first edition of early 17th-century reports of the Jesuit missions in Portuguese India
and other parts of Southeast Asia

Relaçam annual das cousas que fizeram os padres da companhia de Jesus na India, & Japão nos annos de 600. & 601. & Do processo da conversaõ, & Christandade daquellas partes: tirada das cartas gêrae que de lâ vierão pello padre Fernão Guerreiro da Companhia de Iesus.
Evora, Manoel de Lyra, 1603. 4to. With a woodcut ornamental device on the title page with the initials of the Societatis Jesu and another (slightly different design) on leaf 3, woodcut decorated initials (2 series) and an ornamental headpiece built up from typographic material. Contemporary overlapping vellum with a manuscript title on the spine and remnants of ties. 12 ll, 13-259, 1 blank pp. [= 272 pp].
€ 25,000
Very rare first edition of the first volume of a series Portuguese-language reports documenting (Jesuit) overseas missions, particularly focusing on Asia. The reports were published separately in five instalments over an eight-year period, starting with the first volume in 1603 and concluding with the last volume in 1611. Unlike individual letters or synoptic histories, these volumes provide extensive and detailed accounts of the events that took place during a relatively short period. They offer a unique perspective on the activities of the Jesuits in Asia. They reported on and thus advertised their activities in several languages; the reports written in Portuguese, including the present work, are generally the rarest.
The present work was written by Fernão Guerreiro (1550?-1617), who was a Portuguese historian and Jesuit father. "In his 'to the reader' Guerreiro indicates that he conceived of his Relaçam as a continuation of Luis de Guzman's two-volume Historia de las missiones ... en la India Oriental ... China y Iapón. As a consequence he usually begins his accounts with 1600, the date when Guzman left off. In moving from area to area in the East, he ordinarily starts with a review of the number and location of Jesuit establishments, the persons working in them, and the activities with which they busied themselves. He indicates that by 1601 the Jesuits had divided the Orient administratively into three provinces: (1) North India, (2) South India, (3) China and Japan. he claims that in these provinces they had more than one hundred houses - including colleges, rectories, and residences - in which almost six hundred Jesuits worked. The Province of North India included, apart from the Portuguese coastal outposts from Goa northward, the missions of 'Mogor' (Mughul Empire), Cathay, and Persia. ..." (Lach & Van Kley, Asia vol. III, book 1 p. 316).
The present work is the first volume in a series of 5 volumes containing Jesuit letters and related texts by Guerreiro. Not only the complete series is very rare (only the British Library is known to possess a complete set), but also the individual volumes and especially the present first edition of the first volume is very rare. Several reference works emphasize this fact, for example in the Catalogue de la bibliothèque de M. Fernando Palha 3, 2552: "Cette partie des relátions annuelles des missionaires Jésuites est très rare".
With an inscription on the title-page: "Dom. Prof. Nom. Soc[^]tis Jesu Cat. Insc. Bibl. cois(?)". Leaves L3 and L4 are misbound after L5. The back hinge is slightly weakened, somewhat foxed and browned throughout. Otherwise in good condition. Backer & Sommervogel 3, 1913; Barbosa Machado 2, p. 27-28; Borba de Moraes 1, p. 380; Catalogue de la bibliothèque de M. Fernando Palha 3, 2552; Condes de Azevedo e de Samodães 1, 1474; Innocencio II, p. 282, 154; Pinto de Matos, Manual bibl. Portuguez, p. 350; Porbase (3 copies); Silva, Condessa de Azambuja, 1128; WorldCat (6 copies); cf. Alt-Japan Kat. 597 (Spanish ed.).
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Related Subjects:

Asia  >  China | India & Sri Lanka | Japan & Far East | Southeast Asia
Europe  >  Spain & Portugal
Religion & devotion  >  Church History & Missions | Jesuits