Matteo Ricci ~ 1550-1610

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     Matteo Ricci was born in Macerata, Italy in 1550. He entered the Jesuits and in 1883 he arrived in China. He became fluent in the Chinese language, and adoped Chinese dress and a Chinese name, Li Ma-teu. He studied Chinese science and mathematics, and made western science and mathematics available to Chinese scholars.
     When he arrived in China he began to prepare a "Great Map of Ten Thousand Countries," a world map for China. In 1601 he moved to Beijing, and attended the court of Wan Li, and became the court mathematician. He published drafts of his map in 1584 and in 1600. The final version was made public in 1602.
     The map on the Italian stamp is not identified as Ricci's map, but it is based on the map  of 1529 that is attributed to him. The southern continent in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is rectangular as on that map, and the string of islands across the bottom of the map appears on it.

SCN 2486

     The image of Ricci on the stamp is that of a Chinese scholar, and also appears on a Chinese stamp with an armillary sphere. The stamp commemorates the 400th anniversary of Ricci's arrival in China in September 1583.

SCN 2359

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