|JapSin I, (38/42) 40/2|
Lishi tiaowen 李師條問.
By Yan Mo 嚴謨.
Manuscript, fifty folios with Arabic numbers, one hundred pages. 24 x 14 cm.
The cover gives the Chinese title: Tiaowen jida 條問集答, fu muzhu kao yitiao 附木主考一條, Fujian Yan Baolu ji 福建嚴保綠集.” The Latin inscription reads: “Tiao-uen cie ta lo MS sinico de ritibus & ceremoniis sinicis. Responsiones Ien Ambrosii & Ien Pauli Patris et filii ad quaesita Pis Li su.”Page one bears the inscription: Lishi tiaowen, 閩漳嚴保琭謨定猷氏集答 (Replies collected by Paul, Yan Mo, [zi] Dingyou, of Zhangzhou, Fujian), 父嚴盎博削贊化思參氏鑑訂 (Prepared for publication by his father, Ambrose Yan Zanhua, [zi] Sican).
Yan Mo, a native of Zhangzhou (Fujian), was baptized under the name Paul 保綠 or 保琭. Jap-Sin I, 38/42 mentions him and his father as “sinensium litteratorum” and on the cover of Jap-Sin I, (38/42) 41/1 he is called “litterato christiano in Fokien.”
The Bianji houzhi 辯祭後誌 (Jap-Sin I, [38/42] 41/2b), another work by Yan Mo, is dated yihai 乙亥 (1695). In a letter to Mu dalaoshi 穆大老師 (i.e., José Monteiro 穆若瑟, zi 德我, 1644–1718) Yan Mo mentions that his brother-in-law was participating in the government examinations. So it seems that the family came from the literati class. In Jap-Sin 178, folio 35, there is a long letter from Yan Mo to Father Giovanni Laureati, in which he calls himself suigongsheng (senior licentiate) of the district of Longqi 龍溪縣歲貢生. He writes of himself as one who had been looked after by the Jesuit missioners ever since his youth and says that he is by then an old man. In the same document we find a letter from Laureati to Stumpf, dated 23 April 1718 (Focheu), which says of Yan Mo: “Nien Siam cum, velho cum sem [貢生] que está na Igrega de Rmo Magino [Ventallol] . . .” (folio 33).
Ambrose Yan Zanhua, father of Yan Mo, was a scholar himself. He wrote a preface to the Shensi lu (cf. Jap-Sin I, 34/37, 1).
Li shi or Master Li (mentioned in the title), for whom Yan Mo wrote the replies, was Simão Rodrigues (1645-1704). He was known by his Chinese name as Li Ximan 李西滿 (zi 受謙). He was in Fujian around the year 1682. Later he went to Jiangnan and died in Suzhou (cf. Jap-Sin I, [38/42] 40/5). Cf. Pfister, no. 144; Répertoire, no. 719.
This book is a collection of replies on the meaning of different problems in connection with the Chinese rites. The first three pages give a list of reference books, personal names and dynastic periods. The general remarks, which consists of only one line, gives a number of conventional signs which are used throughout the book.
The replies are given in order and clearly. Besides quoting from diverse sources, the author gives his own ideas. He makes clear distinctions between the original meaning of ancestor worship and Buddhist superstitious practices. He then points out that, although the Song scholars theoretically denied the subsistence of the human soul, yet they were quite serious on the importance of funeral and burial rites. For Yan Mo, ancestor worship was an ancient practice in China by which one expressed filial piety towards one’s ancestors. Hence the missioners need not forbid it and thus incur disapproval from the pagans.
With regard to the veneration of Confucius, Yan tries to show that Confucius was respected by the Chinese for his excellence as a teacher. In the ceremonies one did not pray to him for favors of any kind.
Finally in his study on the origin of the ancestral tablets (pp. 93–100: Muzhu kao 木主考, see also Jap-Sin I, [38/42] 41/1b), Yan Mo comes to the conclusion that the Chinese did not believe that the souls of their ancestors were actually present in the tablets. Rather, by looking at these tablets they were reminded of their beloved forefathers. Again there is no superstition involved.
Source: Albert Chan, SJ, Chinese Books and Documents in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, pp. 45-46.