To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Matteo Ricci's arrival in China, this Directorate released a set of two stamps. Both the stamps bear the portrait of Matteo Ricci. The back ground objects feature different aspects of his life and interests. The 2.00 stamp depicts the globe of ancient times, while the 18.00 stamp the Great Wall of China.
Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) was an Italian missionary sent by the Society of Jesus. In 1583 he arrived in Kwangtung, then travelled to Peking, introducing the Church to China. He knew Chinese, and what's more, was versed in mathematics, time measurement, map projections and medicine. Emperor Shen of the Ming Dynasty had a high opinion of him, and, moreover, ranking officials in those days such as Hsu Kuang`chi, Li Chih`tsao, and so on, were pleased to make friends with him. With his broad knowledge of science, Matteo Ricci wrote two books, namely, Ch'ien`k'un`t'I-i (Theory of Heaven and Earth) in two volumes and Geometry in six volumes. It was at that time astronomy and mathematics as de-veloped in the West began to be passed on to China. In short, Matteo Ricci significantly contributed to the interflow of Chinese and Western culture and introduced astronomy to China.