Thursday, November 03, 2005

Copying Fidelity: Ramelli in China

Breakdown in copying fidelity was a problem in manuscript culture. One example is the result of the diffusion of the theatrum machinarum into China. One example is the Taixi shuifa ???? (Hydraulic Methods of the Great West, 1612) by Sabatino De Ursis. A Jesuit, De Ursis brought several machine books with him on his voyage to the orient.

In contrast to the detailed renderings of Ramelli and Besson, the Chinese works are very low-fi. Consider this example of a double acting pump:


The detail drawings are similarly lacking in fidelity:


KMODDL provides more details on the Chinese mechanical books and the Max-Plank institute disucsses the Qi Qi Tuo Shuo. They also have an excellent digitized copy. One particularly interesting figure is quite clearly a copy of Ramelli:

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