Jean Joseph Marie Amiot

Portrait of Jean Joseph Marie  Amiot

Jean Joseph Marie Amiot, known as Père (Abbot) Amiot or Amyot and as 錢德明 (Qian De-Ming) as a mandarin (1 Feb. 1718, Toulon, France - 9 Oct. 1793, Beijing) was a French Jesuit missionary during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor, and studied Chinese literature, astronomy, music, botany, geography, from 1750 (time of his arrival) until his death.

A correspondant of the French Académie des Sciences and an official translator of Western languages for the Chinese Emperor, he was the first Western writer to mention Zhou Daguan's description of Zhenla (Chenla), even if his translation was later perfected by Abel-Rémusat, and the first to ship Chinese free-reeded musical instruments to Europe, including the sheng, which was to inspire the invention of the harmonica (French harp). A biographer of Confucius, author of a Tartar-Mandchurian grammar, he was also the first translator of Sun Tzu's L'Art de la guerre (The Art of War).

The volume XIV of the monumental series Mémoires concernant l'Histoire, les Sciences, les Arts, les Moeurs, etc.., des Chinois, par les Missionnaires de Pe-Kin, published in January 1789 in Paris (16 vols.), contains the description of Chenla among other "countries paying tribute to the Emperors of China".