Hidden Treasures – an exploration of antique maps of Asia & China 16th-18th century Vince Ungvary, May 28th RAS Beijing
"Old maps have a double charm, visual and historical. They embrace the whole world and every nation. They are pictorial history presented with the greatest economy of space." --R.V. Tooley, Maps and Map-makers, 1972
How were maps made? • Manuscript - vellum , hand drawn. Sailing charts (Portolan charts), 13th-15th Century • Wood cuts - 15th-16th century • is a relief printing technique in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, then inked and pressed. • Copper engraving – 16th century-mid 19th century. • “Intaglio” – is a technique where the image is incised into a surface, and the incised line or sunken area holds the ink, which damp paper is then pressed upon. • Steel engraving – same as above, from early 1800.
Different uses of maps • In European cartography – maps were bought and used for various reasons. • Portolan charts – navigational charts – used on voyages of exploration & trade by sailors • Geographic charts & historical maps • showing knowledge of geographic regions, with historical, ethnographic and political details. Made for purchase by the aristocratic elite, libraries of universities, monasteries. • In Chinese cartography • made for a very select, elite group – emperor or the highest officials. • Made for military, ideological/political and administrative reasons. • Chinese maps of the 14thC do not show political boundaries
The first maps….. • Ancient maps of Babylonia – 24th Century BCE ( Before Common Era) • Chinese maps – from 4th Century BCE • Greek cartography – Pythagoras, Herodotus, Ptolemy – 500 BC-150AD. • The Middle ages – 700-1300. Heavily influenced by religious representations, not used for geographical purposes, but educational & ideological reasons.
Earliest maps of China • Qin State maps – 4th century BCE • Han State maps – 2nd century BCE • The Great Ming Amalgamated Map or Da Ming Hun Yi Tu – from around 1390 • Kunyu Wanguo Quantu –made in 1602 – from Jesuit & Chinese sources by Matteo Ricci.
The Great Ming Amalgamated Map or Da Ming Hun Yi Tu Bohai bay Europe Malaysia Hainan A world map created in China around 1390 under reign of Emperor Hongwu. It was painted in colour on stiff silk and 386 x 456 cm in size.
Kunyu Wanguo Quantu, 1602 • Literally "A Map of the Myriad Countries of the World” printed in China at the request of the Wanli Emperor. • Drawn in 1602 by Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit priest working with Chinese scholars. • The six-piece map is 12 feet wide and 5 feet tall. • This map is the earliest known Chinese world map with the style of European maps. • Crucial in expanding Chinese knowledge of the world and 1st Chinese map to show America
Ptolemy and his influence on cartography of Asia • China became known to European classical writers through the ancient trading routes beyond the Caspian sea to the Orient– the Silk road. • Claudius Ptolemy (90 AD – 168 AD) was an Alexandrian who had a profound influence on European cartography and geographic knowledge of Asia. • Ptolemy’s work ( Geographia) would lay dormant for well over 1000 years before being "re-discovered" & absorbed in the early Renaissance period. • One of the main aspects of Ptolemy’s view of Asia was that the Indian ocean was landlocked – more like a large lake. • If Ptolemy was right, then only long & hazardous monopolized routes through the Middle East were an option to trade with Asia. • The theory of the landlocked Indian ocean lived on as a myth even after maritime discoveries had refuted it.
Traveler's accounts of Asia • The impact of the work of Marco Polo ( 1254-1324) and the cartographic output from the voyages of Christopher Columbus transformed European maps of Asia in the early 16th Century. • Polo's classification & identification of the different regions of Eastern and South Eastern Asia was widely adopted on maps produced from medieval times right through the 16th & 17th Centuries. • However the influence of Ptolemy’s view of Asia continued to prevail. • Ptolemy’s view of Eastern Asia in the late 15th and early 16th Centuries had to be reconciled with the discoveries following the voyages of Columbus and increasing knowledge of Asia from Portuguese and Spanish expeditions.
The arrival of the Portuguese • A post-Polo vision of Asia was slowly built with the arrival of the Portuguese in the early 16th century – based on actual experience and sailing journeys, not the fantastical accounts of early travelers heard through the grapevine. • Vasco De Gama ‘s discovery of a route to India via Southern Africa started to break down old Ptolemiac geographic myths. • In 1511, Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Malacca for Portugal, then the center of Asian trade and the fabulous wealth of the East Indies spice/gold/silver trade. • The Portuguese - Jorge Alvarez arrived in the Pearl River delta about 1513/14. • Extension of contacts beyond the Pearl River delta - coasts of Fujian & Zhejiang Provinces. • Established a permanent foothold when Macao was ceded by the Chinese in about 1557. • The impact of the Portuguese presence in the region can be seen directly in the printed maps that began to appear in Europe in the second half of the 16th Century.
Ortelius –16th century representations of Asia • Abraham Ortelius 1527 –1598. Flemish cartographer. • Map of Asia from Ortelius' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first modern world atlas. 1573. • Subsequent maps of China by Ortelius heavily influenced by Portuguese cartographer Luis de Barbuda.
Gerardus Mercator 1512 - 1594. First to coin the term “atlas”. • The influence of Ptolemy in this map remains strong. Asia Map of 1595
The Dutch & English empires in Asia • In 1592, the English captured a large Portuguese trading vessel carrying 900 tons of cargo from India & China – worth ½ the English Treasury. • Dutch explorers gained first hand knowledge of ‘secret’ Portuguese trade routes to Asia and the Spice isles. • Dutch & English trading co’s – VOC and East India Company – break the monopoly of the Portuguese and Spanish from early 1600’s. • Between 1602 & 1796 – the VOC sent almost 1 million people to work in Asia on 4,785 ships – far more than the rest of Europe combined.
Mercator/Hondius 16th century/early 17th century representations of Asia • The geographic realities are now becoming clearer as the Dutch move into Asia with their VOC trading empire.
Hondius and Dutch cartography in Asia • Jodocus Hondius 1563 – 1612 was the successor to the Mercator map publishing business. • Hondius not only refined Mercator’s maps, but introduced new innovations such as the “carte de figures” seen below in this rare map of 1659..
18th Century European maps of Asia • Maps of Asia continued to be further refined not only through colonial conquest but also through scientific expeditions • eg Cook, Bougainville, La Perouse in the mid-late 1700’s. • Increasingly more maps of Asia by French, German & English cartographers were published during this period • eg .Vaugondy, Bellin, Senex, Lotter, Seutter, Bowen.
Examples of 18th Century maps of China/Asia Bowen - 1744 C. Lotter - 1760 J. Elwe - 1792 Vaugondy - 1755
Summary • The Ptolemiac European view of Asia prevailed for almost 1500 years before Portuguese and Spanish explorers demolished it by finding a sea route to Asia via Southern Africa (West) and Pacific (East) • Information from the Jesuits in China was provided to European cartographers, enhancing the geographic knowledge of China in Europe. • The enormous wealth of the Spice islands drove the Dutch to take a stranglehold on Asian trade and this is reflected in the improved accuracy of 17th C maps of the region. • Western imperialism and conquest in Asia from the 16thC to the 18thC is clearly shown in the cartographic record.