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LI (Zhaoluo), compiled by. DONG (Fangli), drawn by.

Huang chao yi tong yu di quan tu. [Complete Map of the Unified Realm of the Imperial Provinces]. Large map of China consisting of 45 (of 48) engraved plates (each measuring 44,2x30cm, 3 missing sheets supplied in facsimile on original paper). Provincial boundaries coloured in outline, some manuscript annotation (some Chinese in a Western hand, some in French). Title, separate pattern-chart for assembling the sheets, and two leaves of text. Each plate backed onto patterned silk, some minor marginal fraying and surface wear, but overall a very good set. Yanghu [now Changzhou], Bian Zhi Shu Shu [Privately Printed], dated: Daoguang 12 [i.e. 1832].  

In the 18th century several important cartographic surveys of the Chinese Empire were undertaken with the help of the Jesuits using triangulation methods. The first such map ‘Map of a Complete View of the Imperial Territory’ ( Huang yu quan lan tu ) was presented to Kangxi in 1718 having been printed from 41 copper plates. The prime meridian of this map runs through Beijing. The Qianlong emperor ordered a further survey of the realm that included the recently conquered regions in the West of China ( Xinjiang ) as well as new surveys of Tibet and Siberia. This became known as the ’Map of Qianlong in 13 rows ( Qianlong shisan paitu ) because it could be divided into 13 horizontal rows. That map (also known as Huang yu quan tu ) was engraved on 104 copper plates and printed under the supervision of the French Jesuit Michel Benoist (1715-1774) in 1761. All of these maps were printed in the Forbidden City and were regarded as strictly confidential.

The present map was compiled by Li Zhaoluo (1769-1841) and drawn by Dong Fangli (also known as Dong Youcheng, 1791-1823) and it represents an amalgamation of the first two maps. Like the previous maps it has a latitude and longitude grid with the meridian running through Beijing. This map is printed in 8 rows and represents anupdate on the information about the empire - in particular the changing course of rivers and canals. It uses two sets of grid systems, namely the old square Chinese grid ( jili huafang ) where each square represents a distance of 200li (ca. 100km), as well as the western system of parallels and meridians shown in stippled lines. The text explains that meridians converge towards the north pole and that this information facilitated astronomical observations. The map was apparently printed from engraved plates with the permission of the Imperial Secretariat ( neifu ) and this represents the first time that the previously confidential Jesuit surveys were made public in China. It covers the area from Sachalin in the east to the Pamirs in the west, from Siberia in the north to the South China Sea.

Dong Fangli and Li Zhaoluo were both from Yanghu (now Changzhou, Jiangsu Province) and both were mathematicians. Dong was a maths genius from the youngest age, he passed the Juren degree in 1818, and played a major role in the development of linear algebra. Li obtained the Jinshi degree in 1805. He published several works on geography, history, and mathematics. Both were influenced by Western mathematical trends that had been introduced by the Jesuits. The present map is the first one to make the Jesuit surveys publicly available and it was very influential into the 20th century. Extremely rare. Only two copies in OCLC (National Library of Australia & Library of Congress).


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