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[Chinese Year of the Ox]

China in Maps - A Library Special Collection

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Da Qing Yi Tong Tian Xia Quan Tu - ca.1818
107 x 62 cm

Zhu Xiling

This exceptionally rare and important example of Chinese cartography from the early 19th century is a hand colored wood block print, first published in Beijing by Zhu Xiling. It is a fine example of the indigenous tradition of Chinese mapmaking. China is at the center of the map, with the Great Wall, Lop Nur Desert, the provincial divisions of the country, provincial and regional capitals, military outposts, local settlements and main waterways and rivers all clearly delineated. It also shows offshore islands like Hainan and Taiwan. America and other Western countries are represented as an array of amorphous and inconsequential islands along the border of the main landmass. The Indian Ocean described as the "Small Western Ocean".

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Fujian, Taiwan he Taiwan hai xia di tu - 19th century
143 x 245 cm

Zhan Zhilian

This large scale manuscript map of the region, probably produced for administrative and military purposes, is much larger than the usual coastal scroll maps that typified indigenous Chinese cartography in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It is an unusually detailed and artistic map compared to others of the genre. Principal administrative divisions are shown and color-coded. Main cities, settlements and principal garrisons and fortifications are identified along the coastlines on both sides of the Straits of Taiwan. Principal sea-lanes and sailing routes are shown with red lines. Note the superb artistic details of Chinese junks and sampans at anchor, as well as the mountain and cloud-covered hilltop fortifications in the hinterland.

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Xiamen ji lin jin di qu di tu - ca.1810
55 x 115 cm


An important early 19th century manuscript map of the port of Xiamen and the surrounding regions, it includes the islands and settlements on Xiamen and Jinmen as well as the coastal city of Quanzhou. The detail includes all the principal fortifications, settlements, anchorages and sea routes. The anchorage at Xiamen is crowded with sampans and junks shown in a fairly stylized and simple fashion. The sea is colored in a delicate wavy patterned green wash and the coastlines on the bubble model are typical of Chinese maps of this period. The map provides an important and unusual detailed picture of this region through the eyes of an anonymous early 19th century official Chinese mapmaker.

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Hong Kong Etc. as Seen from the Anchorage - ca.1846
12 x 69 cm ea.

Lieut. L. G. Heath of H.M.S. Iris, 1817-1907

An rare set of early panoramic engravings of Hong Kong and the surrounding area, from Kowloon to Lantau , originally drawn on the spot by Lieutenant L.G. Heath of H.M.S. Iris in 1846. They were published in printed form in 1847, as a supplement to the first British Admiralty survey of Hong Kong and its environs by Commander Belcher.

The three views can be connected to reflect one long panoramic view of the coast of Hong Kong, from the Kowloon Peninsula to Hong Kong Island, then to Lantau Island and Stonecutters Island. Each view has a key to identify the sites, features and building sof interest, Note all of them have English naval ships, China trade cutters, and local junks and sampans in the foreground.

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Second Part of Asia Being China, Part of India and Tartary, the Islands of Sonda, Molucka, Philippin, Japan etc. - ca.1755
94 x 68 cm

Solomon Bolton,

This map appeared in Postlethwayt's The Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce. (1751-55). It covers Sumatra to Japan and the island of "Yeso", and includes good detail of China and the Southeast Asia. It was based on Jean Baptiste D'Anville's work, revised by Solomon Bolton.

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Canton and Its Approaches, Macao and Hong Kong - ca.1852
34 x 41 cm

Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge & Sir Edward Belcher, 1799-1877

A map in four sections, it shows the Pearl River and its settlements. It includes: a detailed survey of the Pearl River from Macau and Lantau to Guangzhou; a large detailed plan of Guangzhou; a detailed map of Macau; and a small inset map of Hong Kong Island, based on the surveys of Belcher. It appeared in the later editions of a world atlas published by a London-based group, The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. The SDUK's atlas was published from the late 1830's through to the early 1860's and this work appears to have been a response to the establishment of the new colonial settlement of Hong Kong and the China Wars.

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Carte d'une Partie des Cotes de la Chine et des Isles Adjacentes - ca.1775
33 x 48 cm

Alexander Dalrymple, 1737-1808

This simply engraved but important navigational chart identified areas beyond the usual scope of English operations in the Pearl River Estauary. Based on surveys and soundings performed in 1754, 1759, and 1760 by Alexander Dalrymple, it was published by his friend and French colleague, Jean-Baptiste D'Apres de Mannevillette in his Neptune Orientale.

The chart extends from west of Macau (shown as the Bocca Tigris narrows on the Pearl River) to the north. Islands near present-day Hong Kong, among them, Lantau and Lamma are both identified. Hong Kong Island is shown and identified as "Fanchinchow ", with its island nature only tentatively shown. The promontories of Stanley Peak and D'Aguilar Peak are shown in dotted outline.

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The Opium Ships at Lintin in China, 1824 - ca.1838
39 x 59 cm

William Huggins, 1781-1845 & Edward Duncan, 1803-1882

A deceptively calm picture of junks and ships and sea gulls at Lintin Island, it depicts a vital part of the opium trade that had such serious repercussions locally and globally. Lintin Island, located just to the north of Lantau Island and Hong Kong, was known as the "outer anchorage". Here, China-trade ships halted before proceeding onward to Guangzhou, waiting for measuring of cargo and paying customs fees to the Chinese officials there.

From 1821 the Chinese authorities prohibited the importation of opium into either Macau or Whampoa Anchorage close to Guangzhou. As a result, hulks were anchored at Lintin to act as floating depots and warehouses for the drug, which was then loaded onto smaller vessels and smuggled upriver to Guangzhou and other ports. In the 1830's Lintin became a semi-official trading base for the British in the Pearl River Estuary, a pre-cursor to the settlement of Hong Kong a decade later.

Lintin's major deficiency as a port, from the British point of view, was its limited shelter in the monsoon season. This made the safer sheltered anchorage of Hong Kong to the southeast increasingly significant and important in this period.

Edward Duncan made the engraving from oil painting by William Huggins, official marine artist to King William IV. The painting itself is now owned by HSBC.

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Carte des Costes de l'Asie sur Ocean Contenant les Bancs Isles et Costes &c levee sur les Memoires les Plus Nouveau - ca. 1720
58 x 88 cm

Pierre Mortier, 1661-1711

This navigational chart extends from India to Japan. It includes an inset on Australia, detailing Tasman's discoveries of 1642-1644.

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A Chart of the Eastermost Part of the East Indies and China from Cape Comarine to Iapan, with All the Adjacent Islands - ca. 1750
43 x 53 cm

John Seller, fl.1658-1698

First published in Atlas Maritimus, in 1702, this chart's outline and design are similar to the earlier chart of John Thornton, showing the same region. The inset at the top right depicts parts of south and southwestern Japan. In the center, a decorative title cartouche has European depictions of "native figures" surmounted by the coat of arms of the English East India Company.

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A Correct Chart of the China Seas Containing the Coasts of Tsiompa, Cochinchina, the Gulf of Tonquin, part of the coasts of China and the Philippin Islands - ca.1767
60 x 77 cm

William Herbert, 1718-1795

A large-scale chart of the South China Sea, it encompasses Vietnam, Hainan, the coasts of China to Guangzhou, the southern tip of Taiwan and most of the northern Philippines. Its detailed coastal information includes depth soundings along the coasts of Southern China and the Pearl River Estuary.

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A Chart of the China Sea - ca.1774
66 x 48 cm

Alexander Dalrymple, 1737-1808

Encompassing the area from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to northern Borneo, the western Philippines, Taiwan, and the southern coast of China, this chart includes correlations between Portuguese charts and contemporary observations and surveys undertaken by English. Its author, Dalrymple, was Hydrographer of the English East India Company and later official chart maker to the Royal Navy. His importance as a chart maker lay in trying to reconcile and update the discoveries of earlier navigators and chart makers with more recent, scientific, and accurate surveys.

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rev. 24 August 2002
© 2002 HKUST Library