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Pierre-Martial Cibot

Jesuit missionary (1727-1780)

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Cibot, PIERRE-MARTIAL, missionary, b. at Limoges, France, August 14, 1727; d. at Peking, China, August 8, 1780. He entered the Society of Jesus November 7, 1743, and taught humanities with much success. He was sent to China at his own request March 7, 1758, and arrived at Macao July 25, 1759, whence he reached Peking June 6, 1760, joining the Jesuits who were retained at the court of the emperor. Cibot during his many years of missionary labor in China found time also to devote to historical and scientific studies Many of his notes and observations on the history and literature of the Chinese were published in the “Memoires concernant l’histoire, les sciences, les arts, les moeurs, les usages, etc., des Chinois: par les missionaires de Pekin” (Paris, 1776-89, 16 vols.). These volumes were at the time the chief source of information in Europe regarding China and its people.

Cibot’s most lengthy work, his “Essai sur l’antiquite des Chinois”, appeared in the first volume of the “Memoires”. In it he claims Yaou (2356 B.C.) as the founder of the Chinese Empire. This view was not held, however, by other contemporary writers; in the second volume of the “Memoires” his colleague, Father Amiot, in his “L’antiquite des Chinois prouvee par les monuments”, defended the traditional Chinese chronology Cibot also instituted a comparison between the Jews and the Chinese in connection with a commentary on the Book of Esther (Memoires, vols. XIV-XVI). He collected a herbarium of some value and seems to have been particularly interested in botany, though he contributed a number of articles on various topics in natural science to the “Memoires”, e.g. “Notices de quelques plantes arbrisseaux de la Chine” (vol. III), “Observations sur les plantes, les fleurs, et les arbres de Chine qu’il est possible et utile de se procurer en France“; “Notice sur le borax”; “Memoire sur les chevaux” (vol. XI); “Notice sur l’hirondelle, sur le cerf et sur la cigale” (vol. XII), etc. Cibot’s modesty prevented him from signing many of his essays. His style was somewhat diffuse, and his writings received their value chiefly from the variety of topics treated and the interesting information which they contained.

H. M. BROCK


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