Poselstwo Jana Potockiego do Chin  w 1806 r.

Irena Kadulska


Jan Potocki’s mission to China in 1806

Jan Potocki – the most famous European traveler of the Enlightenment and a scholar who was expert in many cultures – made a journey by land to China in 1806. As part of a group of eleven scholars, which he led, he was included in an official Russian mission numbering 250 persons that traveled to the Middle Kingdom in order to establish trading links. On the way, the scholars carried out, inter alia, geological, botanical, and climate research. Potocki prepared maps, descriptions of specimens, and reports of scientific achievements. However, the Russian mission was turned back from the border area for infringing diplomatic principles regarding respect for the traditions and culture of China. Only Potocki obtained permission to cross the border of the Empire on the return journey. This was the first entry of a European into China by land.