The University of Macao (UM) has obtained a rare Portuguese manuscript 300 years ago. This is the embassy’s report sent by King João V of Portugal to Yongzheng Emperor of China in 1725, and important documents are translated into Chinese to facilitate academic research.

The manuscript was obtained through the UM Development Foundation. This moment was described as “very exciting” by António Vasconcelos de Saldanha, a professor of history at UM’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

There are only two known copies of the report, the other at the Ajuda Library in Lisbon.

“Our idea is to translate this book into Portuguese and then translate it. At the same time, this book will be available online,” said Rui Martins, Vice President of UM Global Affairs. Said in today’s public presentation of the manuscript.

According to Martins, the official report from the Embassy of John V to the Yongzheng Emperor in the 18th century “re-appeared” on the international market about six months ago.

This document was obtained from the only European embassy received by Yongzheng Emperor and contains the only information ever written in European language and collected directly in China about the court of the Chinese emperor. Therefore, it is very important.

A rare Portuguese manuscript 300 years ago is a report from the embassy sent by Portuguese King John V to Yongzheng Emperor in China in 1725.Photo courtesy of University of Macao

“It’s the same as an astronomer discovering a new planet,” he added.

“This will probably be one of Macau’s oldest existing manuscripts, showing more than 500 years of historical relations between China and Portugal,” Martins emphasized.

Prior to arriving in Macau, the manuscript delivered by then-ambassador Alexander Metello to Yongzheng Emperor in 1727 was stored in Beijing’s first Chinese historic archive.

According to Han Young-hu, Deputy Director of China’s first historical archive, the manuscript contains gifts sent by the Portuguese king, such as firearms and red wine. The Chinese emperor responded by sending valuable items such as ginger, tea and porcelain to Portugal.

China’s first historical archive has a collection of over 1,000 historical documents on diplomatic relations between Portugal and China.

Han said he hoped that the re-appearance of the document would help “promote research on Sino-Portuguese relations.”

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