Yang Tingyun (1557–1627)
Yang Tingyun 楊廷筠, courtesy name Zhongjian 仲堅, honorific name Qiyuan 淇園, was born in Zhejiang Province on China’s eastern coast. He passed his provincial examination in 1592 and was appointed magistrate. He later rose to the position of Vice-Governor of the Metropolitan Prefecture, the highest rank he was to attain. He was friendly with the leading figures of the most prominent intellectual, artistic and religious circles of the day. He also kept company with Western missionaries, engaging them in discussions of Western science. In 1623, together with the Jesuit missionary Giulio Aleni 艾儒略 (1582-1649; see entry 14), Yang edited and translated Aleni’s Records of Places beyond the Tribute States 職方外紀 (Zhifang waiji), which introduced to Chinese readers the geography, culture, national characteristics, climate and special features of countries in five continents. With a preface by Yang and a map of the world, the book was the first account of human geography available in China (see entry 13). For much of his life, Yang devoted himself to the translation and promotion of books on different branches of Western science. This aspiration is fully expressed in his “Preface to the Woodblock Edition of An Outline of Western Learning” 刻西學凡序 (‘Ke xixue fan xu’, 1624).