Paper Abstract

Melaka in the Long 15th Century Conference

2-4 AUG 19

Elke Papelitzky

New York University, Shanghai, China

Profile

Dr Elke Papelitzky is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Global Asia, NYU Shanghai. She obtained her PhD in 2017 from the University of Salzburg with the dissertation Historical Geographical Texts of the Late Ming (1368–1644) and China’s Maritime History. Her research focuses on knowledge transfer and the perception of the world of Ming and Qing literati as seen in geographical sources, both written and cartographic.

Teaching and Research Interests

Dr Papelitzky interest focuses on knowledge transfer and the perception of the world of Ming and Qing literati as seen in geographical sources, both written and cartographic.

Current Research Projects

Dr Papelitzky is researching maritime knowledge on Chinese, Japanese, and Korean maps of the fifteenth to eighteenth century, studying the relationship between the production of maritime knowledge and the circulation of knowledge on maps.

Melaka in the 15th Century Conference

Abstract

Melaka in Late Ming Historical-Geographical Texts

In the late Ming Dynasty, Chinese literati were interested in foreign countries and so information about the “barbarians” found its way into various texts such as encyclopedias.  Seven authors however, were so interested in foreign matters that they wrote monographs solely about China’s neighbors. These texts include the well-known 1574 Shuyu zhouzilu 殊域周咨錄 by Yan Congjian 嚴從簡, and the lesser-known 1615 Yisheng 裔乘 by Yang Yikui 楊一葵.

Melaka was a popular country to write about. T he authors of these seven texts describe Melaka’s customs and its relations with China during the 15th and 16th centuries, focusing on the official tribute relations.  Some topics one might expect to find are missing: Only few sentences are devoted to Melaka’s trading relations.  Several of the authors even ignore the Portuguese conquest of Melaka and claim that tribute relations between China and Melaka continued undisturbed until the late Ming.  The authors highlight how the Chinese emperors and the Melakan sultans interacted on a personal level and only describe events that paint Melaka in a positive light as a model tribute state.

By studying how these seven texts portrayed Chinese-Melakan relations, and analyzing which information they included and which they left out, we gain knowledge not only about the history of the relations between Melaka and China, but also about the attitude of late Ming literati towards China’s maritime neighbors.