Project (2016-2017)

Western Scholars’ Study on the Science and Technology of Silk in China

The parts of Qin Ding Shou shi tong kao 欽定授時通考 (Ortai et al. 1742) and Tian gong kai wu 天工開物 (Song YingXing 1637) dealing with sericulture were translated into French by Professor Stanislas Julien in 1837. The resulting text, Résumé des principaux traits chinois sur la culture des mûriers, et l'éducation des vers-de-soie 桑蠶輯要, was translated into Italian, German, English, and Russian in the following three years. Charles Robert Darwin studied this volume and took it as an established authority. This is one example of Western scholars’ early studies on Chinese sericulture science and technology. This project investigates Western scholars’ study of the science and technology of China' sericulture, in particular Western historians of science and technology. The project raises questions such as: what methods did Western scientists use in their research? What content they focus on? What conclusions have they drawn?

These issues are addressed using both the literature research method, which emphasizes first-hand data, and survey methods, especially to interview the scholars. The research framework of this project is as follows: first, western scholars’ research on silk science and technology of China will be gathered. Second, based on the first research, I will interview some of the researchers about questions above, and then discuss the relationships between their conclusions and Chinese civilization. Finally, through this project, Western scholars’ findings on the silk science and technology of China would be introduced to Chinese readers.