Universal map of China

Author: Ma, Junliang
Date: 1800
Location: China, World

Dimensions: 133.0 x 72.0 cm.
Scale: Scale not given
Call Number: G7820 1800 .M3


A Chinese view of the world is provided by this unusual woodcut and hand-colored map, titled Jing ban tian wen quan tu, dated circa 1797-1800. The two vignettes depict the world in the European context of two hemispheres. The hemisphere in the upper left, titled Hai guo wen jian lu si hai zong tu and showing the eastern hemisphere, is based on a map in Chen Lunjiong's Hai guo wen jian lu, published in 1730. The hemisphere in the upper right, titled Nei ban shan hai tian wen quan tu and showing the world centered on the Pacific Ocean, is derived from Matteo Ricci's Kunyu wanguo quan tu.

The map at the bottom, titled Yu di quan tu, is based on a map drawn by Huang Zongxi in 1673. The primary emphasis is China, but Europe and the British Isles are represented as a very thin sliver of uncolored land and islands in the upper left corner. The seventeen provinces of China dominate the main section of the map. They are outlined and colored, with cities, towns, and villages indicated by woodcut stamps of their names. Rivers, mountains, the Great Wall of China and the Gobi Desert are also depicted using simple pictorial symbols.

As is typical for world maps from non-European cultures, distant lands are depicted as mysterious and exotic. For example, a note on Brazil identifies it as the "land of the cannibals." A late 19th-century commentator has translated into English several of the Chinese labels and added annotations. For example, a note in the lower right margin refers to a rebellion in "Yung Ngan," in reference to Yang ngan county in Guangxi Province (marked “9” on map), where the Taiping Rebellion started in 1850.

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