Katerina Ilioni

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Katerina Ilioni is significant as the only European woman, prior to the 19th century, for whom historical evidence exists of her presence in China proper.

Little is known about her, except that her father was a Venetian merchant, and the information contained on her tombstone, which survives in the Chinese city of Yangzhou, along with that of her brother. The tombstone bears a Latin inscription, along with images of haloed figures, including the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, and winged angels in the Christian fashion, as well as images more stylistically Chinese. A seal to the left of the Latin inscription bears the name of the Chinese artist who designed and/or carved the tombstone.


  • Valerie Hansen, The Open Empire, New York: W.W. Norton & Company (2000), 345-346.