Background Prologue

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In the 18th century, European merchant ships could only do business in Guangzhou, China's only port open to international trade.
They could only contact the authorized international traders or the so-called Thirteen Factories.
Despite of the restrictions, trading between China and European countries initiated unexpected cultural exchanges.

In 1765, several international traders gathered at the mansion of PAN Zhengcheng, owner of T'ung-wen, the largest trading firm, for an emergency meeting.
They were puzzled by an order just given to them by the Emperor.

Simply put, YANG Tingzhang, Viceroy of Guangdong and Guangxi, received an edict from Emperor Qianlong.
He was asked to ship a batch of model drawings to Europe to make copperplate engravings.

Qianlong's edict came with its Italian and Latin translations. Attached to the document were four western-style ink drawings called "Engravings of Victory", and a letter written in Italian.

Nevertheless, the Emperor did not instruct them where in Europe could make these engravings.
YANG Tingzhang did not have any idea how to handle this pointless order.
He discussed it with FANG Tiyu, Superintendent of Guangdong Customs.
They finally decided to let PAN Zhengcheng, Chief Merchant, to invite Guangzhou's international traders for a meeting.
And let them figure out how to take care of the Emperor's assignment.

It makes us wonder why the Emperor wanted to make these "Engravings of Victory".
Why did he demand European printers?
Who made these ink drawings?
What were the drawings' contents?