terça-feira, 23 de julho de 2013

Departamento asiático da Biblioteca do Congresso EUA

O departamento dedicado à Ásia da Biblioteca do Congresso dos EUA tem hoje mais de um milhão de documentos. Tudo começou em... Macau no já longínquo final do século 19.
Foi precisamente numa mesa de pedra localizada num dos jardins do templo de Kun Iam Tong que foi assinado o primeiro tratado sino-americano em 3 de Julho de 1844 pelo Vice-Rei de Cantão, Ki Jing, e o ministro Caleb Cushing dos EUA. Este tratado é também conhecido como o "Tratado Sino-Americano de Mong-Há".
Tratado de Wanghia (望廈條約, pinyin: Wàngxià tiáoyuē) foi um acordo diplomático assinado entre a Dinastia Qing e os Estados Unidos. É considerado um exemplo dos chamados “tratados desiguais". Instituía, por exemplo, só para os cidadãos norte-americanos residentes na China, o privilégio da extra-territorialidade.

Chinese books played a central role in the development of the Library's Asian language collection during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In fact, the Library's first special unit to take care of Asian holdings, established in 1928, was called the "Division of Chinese Literature." How did the Library's Chinese collection begin? A good starting point is February 23, 1844, when the USS Brandywine dropped anchor in Macau's harbor, on China's southern coast. The Brandywine's arrival attracted more than usual attention in the Portuguese colony, for aboard was the first U.S. Minister to China, Caleb Cushing. A politician and lawyer, Cushing had been appointed by President Tyler to negotiate the Treaty of Wang hsia, which would give the United States the same trading privileges China had granted Great Britain only two years earlier in the Treaty of Nanking. Cushing intended to proceed on to Peking but the Chinese insisted he wait in Macau for the arrival of the emperor's representative. During the nearly four months before the Chinese delegation arrived, Cushing set up a legation on Macau's pleasant Praia Grande, overlooking the harbor, and continued his study of China, including both the Chinese and Manchu languages.Cushing had excellent tutors. One of those was Dr. Peter Parker, an American medical missionary working in Canton. Cushing appointed Parker and another missionary, Elijah Coleman Bridgeman, as joint "Chinese Secretaries" to the mission. A third American missionary, S. Wells Williams, became an unofficial adviser and will reappear later in the story of the Library's Chinese collection. Williams and Bridgeman published a missionary newspaper, The Chinese Repository, still an important resource for scholars and available in the Library's Rare Book and Special Collections Division. An avid bibliophile, Cushing also used his long wait to buy Chinese books, relying on the three missionaries, who in turn appear to have been assisted by Chinese Christian convert, Liang Afa, who was a printer with wide contacts among Canton's booksellers. By the time Cushing had completed the treaty and was ready to leave Macau at the end of August 1844, he had developed an excellent library of Chinese classics. It was this collection, acquired in 1879, that formed part of the original core of the Library's Chinese holdings. In addition, Cushing's personal papers, including his original card catalog, can be found in the Manuscript Division of the Library. The 237 titles (2,547 volumes) that make up the Cushing collection include history, medicine, classics, poetry, fiction, ethics, astronomy, essays, and dictionaries. It took thirty-five years, however, before the Cushing collection found its way to the Library. In the meantime, another group of Chinese books had the honor of being the first on the Library's shelves. In 1869, America's interest in China was growing, in part as the result of the previous year's visit to Washington, D.C., of an official Chinese delegation led by the former U.S. minister to China, Anson Burlingame, whose personal papers are now in the Library's Manuscript Division. It was also in 1869 that the U.S. legation in Peking received ten works, consisting of some 934 volumes, from the Chinese government as the result of an international exchange system authorized by Congress in 1867. The American diplomat who played a central role during the two years it took the legation in Peking to negotiate the exchange was none other than S. Wells Williams, the former missionary publisher who had assisted Caleb Cushing in 1844. Carefully listed and annotated by Williams, the books included the Confucian classics and works on medicine, botany, language, philosophy, and mathematics, each with the notation: "Presented to the Government of the U.S.A. by His Majesty the Emperor of China, June 1869."
View of Green Island, Macau, 1844. George West was the official artist attached to U.S. Minister Caleb Cushing's delegation during negotiation of the first U.S. treaty with China in 1844. During Cushing's five-month stay in the Portuguese territory of Macau on China's southern coast, West sketched and painted numerous local scenes. In this watercolor, West shows Green Island (Ilha Verde), a prominent feature in Macau's inner harbor and the site of a seventeenthcentury Jesuit monastery, abandoned by the time West saw it. Today, as the result of land reclamation, Green Island is part of the Macau peninsula. (Caleb Cushing Collection, Manuscript Division)
Texto (em inglês) e imagem da Biblioteca do Congresso dos EUA

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