Manuscript map of 81 x 80 cm on mulberry paper, entirely contemporary hand-coloured, folded between its original blue paper covers and preserved in a black modern leather protective case. The text is in classical Chinese. A red stamp of a previous owner in Chinese characters in the lower right corner of the map.
Scale: the map has a high degree of precision as 1 cm represents 100 Li (approximately 85 km). In very good condition.
Superb and unique manuscript map of China executed towards 1780, under the powerful Qing dynasty, that shows the whole extent of the Empire at its height.
No bibliography seems to mention our map, which is probably unique and that doesn’t seem to have been published.
This map presents a major historical interest because it was drawn towards 1780, during the golden age of the Chinese civilization, when the borders of the Empire were more spread-out than ever.
In fact, the reigns of Yonghzheng (1723-1735) and Qianlong are considered as the zenith of the power of the Qing Empire, which was spread out over more than 13 millions of square kilometres.
Qianlong (1711-1799), the fourth emperor of the Qing dynasty, reigned officially over China from October 18th, 1735 until February 9th, 1796.
His reign is considered as the golden age of Chinese civilization, the height of the Qing Dynasty. The Emperor, an ambitious statesman conscious of his duty, expands the borders of the Chinese Empire towards central Asia. Poet, accomplished painter and master of calligraphy, he promotes the development of Chinese culture across the whole empire.
Well-informed collector, he gathered one of the most important collections of art in the world. He founded the library of the four treasures, Siku Quanshu, in order to establish the largest collection of books in the whole history of China. This was for China a good period of territorial expansion and interior stability.
Under Qianlong, the Chine Empire extended considerably, particularly in central Asia. It reached 13 millions square kilometres, a size that China never had before and will never find again. The Chinese Turkestan was incorporated into the Empire and renamed Xinjiang, while in the West, the valley of Ili was conquered.
Our map is filled with geographical and historical details magnificently hand-written in classical Chinese.
The legend indicates the distances from Nagasaki and gives multiple details about every Chinese province and the neighbouring countries. It also provides information about the population of the neighbouring countries, the Filipino, the Vietnamese, the inhabitants of Java, …
The artist uses varied colours to distinguish the diverse provinces of China as well as the neighbouring countries.
Some elements depicted on the map offer a particular interest:
– The Great Wall, from north-east to north-west, is very clearly illustrated.
– The Gobi Desert, in the north and north-east of the map.
– The illustration of the mouth of the great Yellow River, is of a particular interest. The long river, the cradle of the Chinese civilization, is known for changing its flow since antiquity. In our days, it goes to the Bohai Sea in the north of the Shandong province. However, on our map, as on other maps of the same time, the mouth of the river is located in the south of the Jiangsu province.
– The Dongting Lake, in the Hunan province, the most important source of soft water in China.
– The most important sacred mountain of Taoism, Dong Yue Dai Shan, that all Chinese hope to climb one day.
– Korea, and the Yalu River, the border between China and Korea.
– Japan and the sea of Japan in the north-east.
– In the north, Mongolia, in the south-west, Vietnam, Malaysia, Java, the Philippines, …
Superb and unique manuscript map of China, entirely contemporary hand-coloured and in perfect condition, revealing the extent of the powerful Chinese Empire in the middle of the 18th century.