Johann Grueber

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Johann Grueber (28 October 1623, Linz – 30 September 1680, Sárospatak, Hungary) was an Austrian Jesuit missionary and astronomer in China, and noted explorer.

Linz Place in Upper Austria, Austria

Linz is the third-largest city of Austria and capital of the state of Upper Austria. It is in the north centre of Austria, approximately 30 kilometres south of the Czech border, on both sides of the River Danube. The population of the city is 204,846, and that of the Greater Linz conurbation is about 789,811.

Sárospatak Town in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, Hungary

Sárospatak is a town in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county, northern Hungary. It lies 70 kilometres northeast from Miskolc, in the Bodrog river valley. The town, often called simply Patak, is an important cultural centre.

Hungary Country in Central Europe

Hungary is a country in Central Europe. Spanning 93,030 square kilometres (35,920 sq mi) in the Carpathian Basin, it borders Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Austria to the northwest, Romania to the east, Serbia to the south, Croatia to the southwest, and Slovenia to the west. With about 10 million inhabitants, Hungary is a medium-sized member state of the European Union. The official language is Hungarian, which is the most widely spoken Uralic language in the world, and among the few non-Indo-European languages to be widely spoken in Europe. Hungary's capital and largest city is Budapest; other major urban areas include Debrecen, Szeged, Miskolc, Pécs and Győr.

Contents

Life

He joined the Society of Jesus in 1641 and went to China in 1656, where he was active at the court of Peking as professor of mathematics and assistant to Father Adam Schall von Bell. In 1661 his superiors sent him, together with the Belgian Father Albert Dorville (D'Orville), to Rome in order to defend Schall's work on the Chinese calendar (He was accused of encouraging 'superstitious practices').

As it was impossible to journey by sea on account of the blockade of Macau by the Dutch, they conceived the daring idea of going overland from Peking to Goa (India) by way of Tibet and Nepal. This led to Grueber's memorable journey (Dorville died on the way), which won him fame as one of the most successful explorers of the seventeenth century (Tonnier). They first travelled to Sinning-fu, on the borders of Kan-su; thence through the Kukunor territory and Kalmyk Tartary (Desertum Kalnac) to Lhasa. They crossed the difficult mountain passes of the Himalayas, arrived at Kathmandu, Nepal, and thence descended into the basin of the Ganges: Patna and Agra, the former capital of the Mughal empire. This journey lasted 214 days.

Macau Special Administrative Region of China

Macau or Macao, officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, is a special administrative region on the western side of the Pearl River estuary in southern China. With a population of 653,100 in an area of 32.9 km2 (12.7 sq mi), it is the most densely populated region in the world.

Tibet plateau region in Asia

Tibet is a historical region covering much of the Tibetan Plateau in Inner Asia. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa, Tamang, Qiang, Sherpa, and Lhoba peoples and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han Chinese and Hui people. Tibet is the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 5,000 metres (16,000 ft). The highest elevation in Tibet is Mount Everest, Earth's highest mountain, rising 8,848 m (29,029 ft) above sea level.

Nepal country in South Asia

Nepal, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is located mainly in the Himalayas but also includes parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. With an estimated population of 26.4 million, it is 48th largest country by population and 93rd largest country by area. It borders China in the north and India in the south, east, and west while Bangladesh is located within only 27 km (17 mi) of its southeastern tip and Bhutan is separated from it by the Indian state of Sikkim. Nepal has a diverse geography, including fertile plains, subalpine forested hills, and eight of the world's ten tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. Kathmandu is the nation's capital and largest city. Nepal is a multiethnic nation with Nepali as the official language.

Dorville died at Agra, a victim of the hardships he had undergone. Jesuit Father Heinrich Roth, a Sanskrit scholar, substituted for Dorville and with Grueber carried on the overland journey through Persia and Turkey, reaching Rome on the 2 February 1664. Their journey showed the possibility of a direct overland connection between China and India, and the value and significance of the Himalayan passes.

Heinrich Roth was a missionary and pioneering Sanskrit scholar.

Sanskrit language of ancient India

Sanskrit is a language of ancient India with a history going back about 3,500 years. It is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism and the predominant language of most works of Hindu philosophy as well as some of the principal texts of Buddhism and Jainism. Sanskrit, in its variants and numerous dialects, was the lingua franca of ancient and medieval India. In the early 1st millennium CE, along with Buddhism and Hinduism, Sanskrit migrated to Southeast Asia, parts of East Asia and Central Asia, emerging as a language of high culture and of local ruling elites in these regions.

Turkey Republic in Western Asia

Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a transcontinental country located mainly in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. East Thrace, located in Europe, is separated from Anatolia by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorous strait and the Dardanelles. Turkey is bordered by Greece and Bulgaria to its northwest; Georgia to its northeast; Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the south. Istanbul is the largest city, but more central Ankara is the capital. Approximately 70 to 80 per cent of the country's citizens identify as Turkish. Kurds are the largest minority; the size of the Kurdish population is a subject of dispute with estimates placing the figure at anywhere from 12 to 25 per cent of the population.

Biographer Richard Tronnier says: "It is due to Grueber's energy that Europe received the first correct information concerning Thibet and its inhabitants". [1] Although Oderico of Pordenone had traversed Tibet, in 1327, and visited Lhasa, he had not written any account of this journey. Antonio de Andrada and Manuel Marquez had pushed their explorations as far as Tsaparang on the northern Setledj.

Tsaparang human settlement in China

Tsaparang was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Guge in the Garuda Valley, through which the upper Sutlej River flows, in Ngari Prefecture near the border of Ladakh. It is 278 km south-southwest of Senggezangbo Town and 26 km west of the 11th-century monastery at Thöling, and not far west of Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. The Tsaparang Dzong was located here. Nearby is the Bon monastery of Gurugem.

Emperor Leopold I requested that Grueber return to China via Russia in order to explore the possibility of another land route through central Asia, but the journey ended at Constantinople as Grueber fell seriously sick. He was obliged to return. Though in poor health Grueber lived another 14 years as preacher and spiritual guide in the Jesuit schools of Trnava (Slovakia) and Sárospatak (Hungary) where he died in 1680.

Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary and Croatia and King of Bohemia

Leopold I was Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia. The second son of Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, by his first wife, Maria Anna of Spain, Leopold became heir apparent in 1654 by the death of his elder brother Ferdinand IV. Elected in 1658, Leopold ruled the Holy Roman Empire until his death in 1705, becoming the longest-ruling Habsburg emperor.

Constantinople capital city of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, the Latin and the Ottoman Empire

Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Byzantine Empire, and also of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261), until finally falling to the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). It was reinaugurated in 324 from ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was named, and dedicated on 11 May 330. The city was located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul.

Trnava City in Slovakia

Trnava is a city in western Slovakia, 47 km (29 mi) to the north-east of Bratislava, on the Trnávka river. It is the capital of a kraj and of an okres. It is the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishopric. The city has a historic center. Because of the many churches within its city walls, Trnava has often been called "parva Roma", i.e. "Little Rome", or more recently, the "Slovak Rome".

Literature on his journey

Statues of the Fifth Dalai Lama and (apparently) Gushi Khan seen by Grueber in the lobby of Dalai Lama's palace Kircher Dalai Lama.jpg
Statues of the Fifth Dalai Lama and (apparently) Güshi Khan seen by Grueber in the lobby of Dalai Lama's palace

An account of this first journey through Tibet in modern times by a European was published by Athanasius Kircher to whom Grueber had left his journals and charts, which he had supplemented by numerous verbal and written additions ("China illustrata", Amsterdam, 1667, 64-67). In the French edition of "China" (Amsterdam, 1670) is also incorporated a letter of Grueber written to the Duke of Tuscany.

For letters of Grueber see "Neue Welt-Bott" (Augsburg and Gratz, 1726), no. 34; Thévenot (whose acquaintance Grueber had made in Constantinople), "Divers voyages curieux" (Paris, 1666, 1672, 1692), II; extracts in Ritter, "Asien" (Berlin, 1833), II, 173; III, 453; IV, 88, 183; Anzi, "II genio vagante" (Parma, 1692), III, 331-399.

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References

  1. Sir Norman Lockyer (1904). Nature. Macmillan Journals Limited. p. 255.

PD-icon.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Johann Grueber". Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.