Ricci Map 1602

    Equipment/facility: Archives and Special Collections

      Asset Details


      Kunyu wanguo quantu 坤輿萬國全圖 (Complete Geographical Map of Ten Thousand Countries), is the oldest surviving map in Chinese to show the Americas. It is a xylograph (wood block print) on six panels of fine native paper (made with bamboo fiber), each panel measuring approximately 608.33 mm x 1820 mm (2 feet by 5.75 feet). Li Zhizao (1565-1630), a Chinese mathematician, astronomer and geographer, who worked on the project with Ricci, may have engraved the map. It was printed by Zhang Wentao of Hangzhou, possibly an official printer of the Ming court.

      A Jesuit priest, Matteo Ricci (1553-1610) arrived in China in 1583 and, with fellow Jesuit Michele Ruggieri, established the first Christian mission. In 1597, Ricci was named Superior or head of the entire Jesuit missionary effort in China. His world map is a true collaboration between the European scholars of the Jesuit mission and the Chinese scholars and artisans of the imperial court. Vivid descriptions of the continents, praise of the Chinese emperor, lunar charts, and scientific tables documenting the movement of the planets adorn the map, a unique representation of East-West relations in the early 17th-century.


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