Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Pierre-Martial Cibot

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 3
Pierre-Martial Cibot

by Henry Matthias Brock


Missionary, born at Limoges, France, 14 August, 1727; died at Peking, China, 8 August, 1780. He entered the Society of Jesus 7 November, 1743, and taught humanities with much success. He was sent to China at his own request 7 March, 1758, and arrived at Macao 25 July, 1759, whence he reached Peking 6 June, 1760, joining the Jesuits who were retained at the court of the emperor. Cibot during his many years of missionary labour in China found time also to devote to historical and scientific studies. Many of his notes and observations on the history and literature of the Chinese were published in the "Mémoires concernant l'histoire, les sciences les arts, les moeurs, les usages, etc., des Chinois: par les missionaires de Pékin" (Paris, 1776-89, 16 vols.). These volumes were at the time the chief source of information in Europe regarding China and its people. Cibot's most lengthy work, his "Essai sur l'antiquité des Chinois", appeared in the first volume of the "Mémoires". In it he claims Yaou (2356 B.C.) as the founder of the Chinese Empire. This view was not held, however, by other contemporary writers in the second volume of the "Mémoires" his colleague, Father Amiot, in his "L'antiquité des Chinois prouvée par les monuments", defended the traditional Chinese chronology. Cibot also instituted a comparison between the Jews and the Chinese in connection with a commentary on the Book of Esther (Mémoires, vols. XIV-XVI). He collected a herbarium of some value and seems to have been particularly interested in botany, though he contributed a number of articles on various topics in natural science to the "Mémoires", e.g. "Notices de quelques plantes arbrisseaux de la Chine" (vol. III), "Observations sur les plantes, les fleurs, et les arbres de Chine qu'il est possible et utile de se procurer en France"; "Notice sur le borax"; "Mémoire sur les chevaux" (vol. XI); "Notice sur l'hirondelle, sur le cerf et sur la cigale" (vol. XII), etc. Cibot's modesty prevented him from signing many of his essays. His style was somewhat diffuse, and his writings received their value chiefly from the variety of topics treated and the interesting information which they contained.

H.M. BROCK