HANGCHOW, coastal capital of Chekiang province, E. China. It was the one of the largest cities in the world during the 14th century. At that time, it is generally believed, a Jewish
community with a synagogue existed there. The Arab traveler Ibn Baṭṭūṭa in the first half of the 14th century described Hangchow as consisting of six cities, each with its own wall, and an outer wall surrounding the whole. Ibn Baṭṭūṭa "entered the second city through a gate called the Jews' Gate. In this city live the Jews, Christians, and sun-worshiping Turks, a large number in all." The Chinese Jew, *Ai T'ien , during a visit to Peking (Beijing) in 1605, told Matteo Ricci, the Jesuit missionary, about the presence of numerous Jews and the existence of a synagogue in Hangchow. Nothing is known of the further history of the community.
H.A.R. Gibb, Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, Travels in Asia and Africa 1325–1354 (1929), 293; A.C. Moule, Christians in China before the Year 1550 (1930), 3.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.