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1778 Vaugondy Map of North Asia (Russia, Siberia, Tartary, China, Japan)


Siberie ou Russie Asiatique, Tartarie Chinoise, Pays des Eluts et Isles du Japon.
Click on image for high resolution zoom.

Price: $225.00
Title:    Siberie ou Russie Asiatique, Tartarie Chinoise, Pays des Eluts et Isles du Japon.

Description:    This is a rare and attractive 1778 map of Northern Asia, comprising Asian Russia, Siberia, Chinese Tartary, Korea, and Japan by Robert de Vaugondy. It covers the vast expanse of northern Asia from Novaya Zembla eastward as far as the Kamchatka Peninsula. This map is most interesting in its rendering of the largely unexplored extreme northeast of Asia. Knowledge of this area was, at the time, speculative at best. A mishappen and large Hokkaido (Terre de Jeso) is mapped only speculatively with its western borders unknown. Shows Sakhalin Island in an embryonic state. The Great Wall of China is marked.

The sea between Japan and Korea, whose name, either the 'Sea of Korea', 'East Sea', or the 'Sea of Japan,' is here identified in favor of Korea (Mer de Coree). Historically, Korea has used the term 'East Sea' since 59 B.C., and many books published before the Japanese annexed Korea make references to the 'East Sea' or 'Sea of Korea'. Over time, neighboring and western countries have identified Korea's East Sea using various different terms. The St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences referred to the East Sea as 'Koreiskoe Mope' or 'Sea of Korea' in their 1745 map of Asia. Other seventeenth and 18th century Russian maps alternate between 'Sea of Korea' and 'Eastern Ocean'. The 18th century Russian and French explorers Adam Johan von Krusenstern and La Perouse called it the 'Sea of Japan', a term that became popular worldwide. Nonetheless, the last official map published by the Russians name the East Sea the 'Sea of Korea'. The name is currently still a matter of historical and political dispute between the countries.

The map centers on the vast stretch of land known for most of the 18th century as Tartary. This area was once part of the vast Mongol Empire consolidated under Genghis Khan around 1206 AD. Although the empire of the Great Khan had long since disintegrated into constituent states by the time this map was made, this little known and largely inaccessible region held a special fascination for western Europeans who were reared on legends of the dreaded Mongols or Tartars and their leader, the terrifying Scourge of God. Consequently, much of the geography of Central Asia represented here references these early conquests. Genghis Khan’s largely abandoned capital at Karacum is noted. To the south of Karakum, Vaugondy notes a range of mountains with a notes that roughly translates to 'Ula Gola Mountains or one believes are the tombs of the emperors of the Family of Genghis Khan'.

This map was engraved by E. Dussy and published by Jean Fortin in 1778.


Date:    1778 (undated)

References:    Pedley, Mary Sponberg Belle et Utile: The Work of the Robert de Vaugondy Family of Mapmakers, 403, state 2.

Cartographer:    Gilles (1688 - 1766) and Didier (c. 1723 - 1786) Robert de Vaugondy were map publishers, engravers, and cartographers active in Paris during the mid-18th century. The father and son team were the inheritors to the important Sanson cartographic firm whose stock supplied much of their initial material. Graduating from Sanson's map's Gilles, and more particularly Didier, began to produce their own substantial corpus of work. Vaugondys were well respected for the detail and accuracy of their maps in which they made excellent use of the considerable resources available in 18th century Paris to produce the most accurate and fantasy-free maps possible. The Vaugondys compiled each map based upon their own superior geographic knowledge, scholarly research, the journals of contemporary explorers and missionaries, and direct astronomical observation - moreover, unlike many cartographers of this period, they commonly took pains to reference their source material. Nevertheless, even in 18th century Paris geographical knowledge was severely limited - especially regarding those unexplored portions of the world, including the poles, the Pacific northwest of America, and the interior of Africa and South America. In these areas the Vaugondys, like their rivals De L'Isle and Buache, must be considered speculative geographers. Speculative geography was a genre of mapmaking that evolved in Europe, particularly Paris, in the middle to late 18th century. Cartographers in this genre would fill in unknown areas on their maps with speculations based upon their vast knowledge of cartography, personal geographical theories, and often dubious primary source material gathered by explorers and navigators. This approach, which attempted to use the known to validate the unknown, naturally engendered many rivalries. Vaugondy's feuds with other cartographers, most specifically Phillipe Buache, resulted in numerous conflicting papers being presented before the Academie des Sciences, of which both were members. The era of speculatively cartography effectively ended with the late 18th century explorations of Captain Cook, Jean Francois de Galaup de La Perouse, and George Vancouver. Click here for a list of rare maps by Gilles and Didier Robert de Vaugondy.

Size:   Printed area measures 12 x 10 inches (30.48 x 25.4 centimeters)

Scale:    1 : 20000000

Condition:    Very good. Original platemark and centerfold visible. Blank on verso.

Code:   NorthAsia-vaugondy-1778 (to order by phone call: 646-483-0487)

Tags:    Vaugondy , Sea of Korea , Hokkaido

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