Johann Schall von Bell, Jesuit astronomer

Johann Schall von Bell, Jesuit astronomer

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Johann Schall von Bell (1592-1666), German Jesuit astronomer. He spent most of his life as a missionary in China. After initial work to reform the Chinese calendar, he gained access to the newly installed Shunzhi Emperor and became one of his trusted counsellors. He was made a mandarin and held an important post as Director of the Imperial Observatory and the Tribunal of Mathematics. In this way he was credited with bringing Western ideas to the East. He also was allowed to make converts to Christianity in China. This image is displayed in the museum of the Imperial Palace of Beijing as an example of an important early western scientific influence on the country. Illustration from Athenasius Kircher's 'Illustrata China' (Amsterdam, 1667), with later hand colouring.

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