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98 Walking Macao, Reading the Baroque 99 6. Neo-Classicism Neo-Classicism Chapter 6 Portuguese colonisation has left traces everywhere in Macao, some of them Christian emblems, signs, which Chinese influences have made to resignify. A first example is the present classical church of Santo António, which has a Virgin and child in its entablature. It stands opposite the Camões Garden, which can be seen in the photograph, and replaces a church which was constructed in 1638, in place of another of 1560. It was burnt in 1809, rebuilt and burnt again in 1874 and repaired thereafter. The photograph shows in its entrance courtyard a cross of 1638, which once bore a crucified Christ. The empty cross means something in Christian theology, but it also suggests the loss of meaning over the centuries, leaving the object stranded, lacking a clear referent. In that way it connects with the melancholy that the cross inspires. Portugal developed its seaborne empire in the fifteenth century, ahead of other European powers. To resume a history begun in chapter 2, it took Cochin, on the Malabar coast of India in 1503, Goa in 1510, Malacca in 1511, and reached China by 1513, under the command of Jorge Álvares. By 1517, Portuguese vessels had arrived in Canton (Guangzhou). By 1542, they had reached Japan, and their ships (carracks) facilitated trade between Japan and China — Chinese silks to Japan, silver bullion from Japan. The Portuguese acted as 53. St Anthony’s Church, cross middle-men between two countries not officially trading with each other. From 1555 onwards, exchange of cargoes took place at Macao. Thanks to the influence of the Jesuits in this trade, Nagasaki became virtually a Jesuit city. Up till 1555, the Portuguese had used two islands in the Pearl River estuary, Sanchoão (Sanzhao, near Macao) and Lampacau (part of Lianwan). The former island was where St Francis Xavier died in 1552, on the brink of going into China, his unrealised wish. His body was exhumed and buried in Goa in 1554. The person in charge of the exchange of cargoes at Macao became the effective governor of a new colony in 1557. 1 Not till 1575 did the Spanish arrive from the Philippines, going to Amoy in China, and so threatening Portuguese hegemony. Macao, ‘City of the Name of God in China’, became a diocese in 1576, and was first called a city in 1586 (when, like Portugal, it was, technically at least, under Spain’s control). 2 Between its founding and 1640, it built twelve churches, including Santo António, Santo Agostinho and São Domingos (discussed in chapter 4), São Paulo (chapters 4 and 5), and São Lourenço and São Lázaro, both discussed later. As the entrance to China, it attracted Jesuit missionaries, such as Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), mathematician and astronomer, born 100 Walking Macao, Reading the Baroque 101 6. Neo-Classicism in Italy the same year as St Francis Xavier died, and trained as a Jesuit by Alessandro Valignano (1539– 1606). Ricci went from Lisbon to Goa in 1578, and then proceeded to Macao in 1582, with the determination of entering China. He went on to Zhaoqing, near Guangzhou in 1583, and to Nanjing by 1594, reaching Beijing in 1600. Macao’s primary importance, which had made it a colony, declined around 1640, through several coincidences: the ending of the Ming dynasty; Malacca being taken by the Dutch in 1641, which limited the influence of Macao; and at the same time, the Portuguese’s expulsion from Japan. 3 Macao was officially part of Xiangshan county in China, and subject to Chinese authorities. According to Jonathan Spence, by the time of Ricci’s arrival in 1582, its population was one thousand, five hundred of whom were Portuguese; others were Indian or Chinese women, children, with three to four hundred resident Chinese families who were interpreters, shopkeepers and artisans. 4 Macao had colonial civic architecture, some memorialised in the museum of the old hospital, Santa Casa da Misericórdia in Senado Square (Holy House of Mercy). The Casa was last rebuilt in 1905, set up first by the Bishop Dom Belchior Carneiro, whose skull was seen in the museum in São Paulo (see photograph 50). The Casa da Misericórdia stands at right angles to the Leal Senado, first so 54. Santa Casa da Misericórdia called in 1642. This, originally a Chinese council for meetings between Portuguese and Chinese, was set up...


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