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1655 Blaeu Map of Jiangxi (Kiangsi) Province, China

Kiangsi, Imperii Sinarum Provincia Octava.

1655 Blaeu Map of Jiangxi (Kiangsi) Province, China


A map from the first Western atlas of China created by the 'first to study the history and geography of China with rigorous scientific objectivity.'



Kiangsi, Imperii Sinarum Provincia Octava.
  1655 (undated)    15.75 x 19.25 in (40.005 x 48.895 cm)     1 : 1800000


This is a 1655 Martino Martini and Joan Blaeu map of Jiangxi (Kiangsi) Province in China. The map depicts the region from the Yangtze River and Poyang Lake to Guangdong (Quantung) Province and from Hunan (Huquang) Province to Zhejiang (Chekiang) Province. Illustrated in detail, Jiangxi Province is divided into prefectures, with each prefecture including a capital city and several smaller settlements. Mountains are depicted in profile, along with trees and buildings. A key is located along the right border explaining the various notations. An elaborate title cartouche is situated in the lower right corner, surrounded by stereotypical depictions of Chinese men. Today Yunnan is admired for its exceptional natural beauty, interesting indigenous cultures, and remarkable gastronomic heritage.

Cartographically the map is based upon Martini's extensive travels as a Jesuit missionary in Manchu China. This map was produced by Martino Martini in his Novus Atlas Sinensis and published by Joan Blaeu in 1655 as part of the Atlas Maior.


Martino Martini (September 20, 1614 - June 6, 1661) was an Italian Jesuit missionary, historian, and cartographer, working mainly on ancient Imperial China. He is acclaimed as the father of Chinese geographical science, as he was ‘the first to study the history and geography of China with rigorous scientific objectivity. Born in Trento, in the Bishopric of Trent, he finished school in 1631. After finishing school, he entered the Society of Jesus and then was sent to study classical letters and philosophy at the Roman College, Rome from 1634 until 1637. He completed his theological studies in Portugal from 1637 until 1639 and was ordained as a priest in Lisbon in 1639. He left for China in 1640 and arrived in Portuguese Macau in 1642. He studied Chinese for some time following his arrival. He then moved to Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province in 1643, and spent much of his time traveling and gathering scientific information, particularly concerning the geography of the Chinese empire. In April 1644, soon after his arrival in China, the Ming capital Beijing fell to Li Zicheng’s rebels and then to the Manchus. Martini had been allied with the short-lived regime of Zhu Yujian, Prince of Tang, who declared himself the (Southern) Ming Longwu Emperor after the fall of the last legitimate Ming emperor, the Chongzhen Emperor. When Wenzhou, where Martini was on a mission for Zhu Yujian, was about to fall to the Manchus, Martini managed to convince them to allow him to change sides. Before the Manchu troops entered the city, Martini created a large red poster stating, ‘Here lives a doctor of the divine Law who has come from the Great West.’ Below the poster he arranged tables with European books, astronomical instruments, and other objects surrounding an altar with an image of Jesus. The commander of there Manchu troops was so impressed by the display that he politely asked Martini to change sides. In 1651, Martini left China as the Delegate of the Chinese Mission Superior. After a circuitous journey, he reached Rome in the spring of 1655. He carried with him a long and detailed communication from the Jesuit missionaries in China, defending the so-called Chinese Rights(veneration of ancestors and other practices allowed to new Christians). After five months of discussions and debates, the Propaganda Fide issued a degree in favor of the Jesuits, although the controversy did not abate.

Johannes Blaeu (September 23, 1596 - December 21, 1673), also known as Joan Blaeu, was a Dutch cartographer active in the 17th century. Johannes was the son of Willem Janszoon Blaeu, founding of the Blaeu firm. Like his father Willem, Johannes was born in Alkmaar, North Holland. He studied Law, attaining a doctorate, before moving to Amsterdam to join the family mapmaking business. In 1633, Willem arranged for Johannes to take over Hessel Gerritsz's position as the official chartmaker of the Dutch East India Company, although little is known of his work for that organization, which was by contract and oath secretive. What is known is his work supplying the fabulously wealthy VOC with charts was exceedingly profitable. Where other cartographers often fell into financial ruin, the Blaeu firm thrived. It was most likely those profits that allowed the firm to publish the Theatrum orbis terrarum, sive, Atlas Novus, their most significant and best-known publication. When Willem Blaeu died in 1638, Johannes, along with his brother Cornelius Blaeu (1616 - 1648) took over the management of the Blaeu firm. They vastly expanded and updated the Atlas Novus to a remarkable 12 volumes. Under the brothers' capable management, the firm continued to prosper until the 1672 Great Amsterdam Fire destroyed their offices and most of their printing plates. Johannes Blaeu, witnessing the destruction of his life's work, died in despondence the following year. He is buried in the Dutch Reformist cemetery of Westerkerk. Johannes Blaeu was survived by his son, also Johannes but commonly called Joan II, who inherited the family's VOC contract, for whom he compiled maps until 1712.


Martini, M., Novus Atlas Sinensis in Atlas Maior (Blaeu: Amsterdam) 1655     Martino Martini's Novus Atlas Sinensis was the first atlas and geography of China published in Europe. Consisting of seventeen maps, it is noteworthy for its accuracy, but also features highly decorative cartouches with vignettes depicting regional dress, activities, and animals. The volume also contains 171 pages of Latin text by Martini comprising a preface on the Far East and descriptions of each province in China and the Liaodong and Korean Peninsulas.


Very good. Light transference. Blank on verso.


OCLC 26670049.
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