The First Contact between the West and China: Sinology´s Origin


  • Gabriel Terol Rojo



Sinology, China and Europe Studies, Benjamin de Tudela, Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta.


In this study the first contact between Western and Asia culture, specifically with China, is reviewed. It begins with a reference to the Roman Empire mentioning the most relevant reference works for a more in-depth study. Next, it focuses on the diaspora of Nestorian Christianity towards the East and specifically its location in Chinese territory, considering also the main reference works and following a historical and lineal story.
Then, the trips of Benjamín de Tudela, although
they did not go beyond Mesopotamia and the
Persian Gulf, served to verify the existence of
Jewish communities in the Far East. In that frame
of reference, the context of the Silk Road would
explain its dedication on the one hand and, on
the other, it delimits them curiously outside the
Chinese territory, delving into the hermetism of
the Asian country. In the Middle Ages and the
European Renaissance, and anticipating the trips
of Spaniards and Portuguese, the figure of Marco
Polo is undoubtedly the most outstanding in the
task of spreading the knowledge about China in
the West. And in that sense also Ibn Battuta, then,
is relevant. Finally, and from the stories written
by these three travelers, multiple expeditions to
Mongolia and China are evinced. A selection of
these concludes the present work.


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Author Biography

Gabriel Terol Rojo

University of Valencia
Faculty of Language Studies,
Translation and Communication
46010 Valencia (Spain)



How to Cite

Terol Rojo, G. (2019). The First Contact between the West and China: Sinology´s Origin. Sinología hispánica. China Studies Review, 7(2), 89–114.