Sankai Yochi Zenzu. [An Explanatory Map of the World]. NAGAKUBO SEKISUI, CARTOGRAPHER.

Sankai Yochi Zenzu. [An Explanatory Map of the World].

Edo. Yahei Asano. no date. [circa1785]. Stock ID #160893

Large coloured manuscript map of the world. Measures 100 x 151cm. This spectacular, large coloured map is a late Edo (early 19th century) copy by an unknown artist of the woodblock map by Nagakubo Sekisui (1717-1801) which was published in 1785, which in turn was based on Matteo Ricci's world map published in ten editions between 1584 - 1610.

The cartographer and polymath, Nagakubo Sekisui, a Confucian scholar from Mito was active as a mapmaker from 1770 onward. He made many popular maps which were published in a number of editions. His mapping, which was considerably more accurate than his predecessors, advanced the science of cartography in Japan. Nagakubo Sekisui's maps were the first Japanese maps to use longitudinal lines, which, though inaccurate due to the lack of knowledge of astronomy, was a breakthrough in Japanese cartography and this was later improved on by Ino Tadataka. Sekisui's Sankai Yochi Zenzu was enormously popular and was published in many editions in varying sizes through to the middle of the 19th century.

Japan was still largely closed to foreign influence at the time this map was published (the penalty for leaving the country or for a foreigner entering outside of the very restricted trading areas was death) and this map serves as an important and fascinating insight into the view an educated Japanese person might have held of the world beyond Japanese shores at that time. Relief is shown pictorially although in some areas the topographic features are fewer than on the first edition.

Particularly interesting is the southern section of the map which is dominated by a very large unknown territory stretching without break across the bottom of the map. Australia as we recognise it today or as represented in European maps of the period does not appear at all. There are two sections where the otherwise reasonably flat line of the unknown southern land bears a slight similarity to Cape York with a northern projection but the lack of knowledge of the region is summed up in the text "No Chinese person has been to this land so we are not able to say what climate, peoples and things are here."

Alternative title "Chikyu bankoku sankai yochi zenzusetu". Rare. (When referring to this item please quote stockid 160893).

Price: $10,000.00 AU

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