1669  — 1720

Pierre Jartoux

Jesuit mathematician and cartographer in China.

Jartoux was a native of Embrun, France. In 1687 he entered the Society of Jesus at Avignon and was ordained 11 years later. In 1701 he was in China and was soon called to Peking (Beijing) to work in the calendar bureau. The emperor took notice of his skills in theoretical mathematics as well as with clocks and other mechanical devices. When not occupied at court, Jartoux ministered to Christians in the capital. In 1708 he assisted two Jesuit confreres, Joachim Bouvet and Jean-Baptiste Regis, in the first stages of making a map of the Chinese empire. His travels took him to the Great Wall north of the capital and throughout Manchuria, where he also ministered to the Christians. Illness forced him to return to Peking, where he began to collate the maps of the provinces in preparation for a general atlas. The final version was presented to the emperor one year after Jartoux died in Manchuria.


This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.


  • Jartoux’s letter on ginseng is in M. L. Aime-Martin, ed., Lettres edifiantes et curieuses (1843), 3:183-187; other works are listed in Louis Pfister, Notices biographiques et bibliographiques sur les Jesuites de l’ancienne mission de Chine (1932-1934), pp. 584-586. Theodore N. Foss, “A Western Interpretation of China: Jesuit Cartograph” in C. Ronan and B. Oh, eds., East Meets West: The Jesuits in China, 1582-1773 (1988), pp. 209-251; Walter Fuchs, Der Jesuiten Atlas der K’ang-hsi Zeit (1943); John W. Witek, Controversial Ideas in China and in Europe: A Biography of Jean-Francois Foucquet, 1665-1741 (1982), pp. 110, 175, 196-198, 235, 243, 247.

About the Author

John W. Witek

Associate Professor of East Asian History, Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA