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Desperately Seeking Capuchins: Manoel Freyre's Report on the Tibets and their Routes (Tibetorum ac eorum Relatio Viarum) and the Desideri Mission to Tibet
Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies
Format: Journal Article
Publication Date: 200608/2006
Publisher: Tibetan and Himalayan Library
Sources ID: 127103
Visibility: Public (group default)
Abstract: (Show)

Creator's Description: This paper contains the first complete translation of the Portugese Jesuit Manoel Freyre's 1717 confidential report on his journey to Tibet as the companion of the famed Italian Jesuit missionary, Ippolito Desideri. The introduction examines the Desideri mission in its historical context of declining Jesuit influence, opposition from other orders, and differences between Jesuits in Rome and India over the desirability of establishing a presence in Tibet. Reading Freyre's account against Desideri's writings and other contemporary documents the paper concludes that Freyre's covert charge was to gather intelligence on the Capuchin missionaries in Tibet and surrounding areas. It is argued that this hidden agenda determined key decisions: leaving Ladakh and traveling to Central Tibet against Desideri's strong wishes, Freyre's abrupt departure from Lhasa, and his long stays in areas of Capuchin influence on his return trip to Agra. His observations of Tibetan culture are discussed, as well as his generally negative evaluation of Tibet, and it is concluded that he did not support any additional investment of Jesuit human and financial resources in a Tibet mission.