1696 Mortier Map of Siberia, Central Asia, China, Korea and Japan

Carte Nouvelle de la Grande Tartarie. - Main View

1696 Mortier Map of Siberia, Central Asia, China, Korea and Japan


The earliest acquirable European mapping of Korea based on firsthand report.


Carte Nouvelle de la Grande Tartarie.
  1696 (undated)     22.5 x 39 in (57.15 x 99.06 cm)     1 : 9370000


This is a stunning, original-color example of Pierre Mortier's 1696 two-sheet map of northern Asia, Siberia, and Tartary. It is drawn primarily from two sources: Hubert Jaillot's 1695 six-sheet wall map of Asia and Nicolaes Witsen's 1687 map of Tartary. As a result, this map represents the most up-to-date cartography of central and northeastern Asia of the seventeenth century, which would not be significantly improved upon until the maps of Strahlenberg thirty years later.
The Foundation
These two sheets were bound individually, without any specific title, in Mortier's Amsterdam editions of Hubert Jaillot's Atlas Nouveau beginning in 1696. They were often issued joined, however, with the pasted-down title 'Carte Nouvelle de la Grande Tartarie, par Monsieur N. Witsen, Bourgemaistre etc. etc. A Amsterdam. Dressée sur les Dégrées de Sr. Sanson. Se vend chez Pierre Mortier.' (The present example is of the joined variety, with the paste-down.) Sanson's contribution to the map should not be overstated: the work is laid out on a projection matching Nicolas Sanson's map of the region, but the cartographic detail presented here supplants anything the mid-seventeenth-century Parisian geographer knew of Asia. Many of Jaillot's maps were essentially expanded versions of Sanson's, and the name of the former Geographer to the King still carried weight - indeed, Jaillot credited Sanson more prominently in his atlas' title than he did himself, and Mortier followed suit. But this map contains significant details which did not come to light until well after Sanson's death, and which moreover did not appear in Jaillot's Paris-published atlas.
Witsen's Tartaria
The whole of the Asian Northeast - everything extending north and east from the Caspian Sea, to the Pacific Ocean from the 55th parallel northwards - is here derived from the 1687 map of Nicolaes Witsen, the first European with access to Russian sources for these remote regions. The map was produced to accompany Witsen's book, Noord en Oost Tartarye (North and East Tartary) which would be the century's most authoritative work on those regions. Although Witsen had not traveled deeply in Russia, he visited Moscow in 1664 and 1665 and enjoyed unprecedented access to Russian sources, amassing detail from medieval and contemporaneous authors for his study on the northeastern extents of Asia, and Russia's expansion eastwards. Witsen's reputation for this work was nowhere greater than in Russia itself: even as late as the nineteenth century Russian historians found that he had used (and thereby preserved) Russian sources that had not otherwise survived. His book would be hailed by Russians as 'the most remarkable book about Asiatic Russia ever written by a foreigner.' There are many Russian and former Soviet nationalities, languages, and towns which were first recorded by Witsen's labor.
Jaillot's 1695 Asia?
Superficially, from the 55th parallel down to the 30th, the map suggests Sanson's geography as presented on Jaillot's maps of Asia. On closer inspection, however, the closest match for its mapping of Korea, Japan and China appears only in Jaillot's 1719 L'Asie divisée suivant l'estendue de ses principales parties, a six-sheet wall map of the continent first issued in 1695. Unfortunately, the sole institutional example of that first issue of the wall map - held by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France - has not been digitized by that institution, and we have seen no image of the map in any cartobibliography. Thus, the question remains open: did Jaillot's 1695 map include this Japan-China-Korea cartography, or was it amended to do so in 1719? This cartography did not appear on any of Jaillot's atlas maps printed in Paris, or in the Amsterdam editions copied from them. Puzzlingly, Jaillot's 1719 map shows a complete ignorance of Witsen's cartography of Tartary and Siberia, instead reproducing Nicolas Sanson's mapping of those regions, as per Jaillot's own atlas maps of Asia. A 1782 edition also exists - probably issued by Jean Nicolas Buache, which benefits from the eighteenth century's exploration of those coasts.
Nova Zembla and the Strait of Nassau
Witsens' advances over the Jaillot begin in the northwestern part of the map, where he presents the island of Nova Zembla with a complete northwestern coast and a strongly implied southern coast. He explicitly separates Nova Zembla from the mainland, emphasizing his Waygat ou Destroit du Nassau with the sailing track of Pierre Martin de la Martiniere passing through it into the Kara Sea. That this required emphasis is further detailed in the lower of the two inset maps (see below) illustrating the competing theory that Nova Zembla was a peninsula.
Vries and the Terre de Jedso
Witsen's 1687 map is silent with respect to the Asian Pacific coast below 55 degrees north, but it is through him that the mapping of this region is here derived. The coastline between that latitude and the ten degrees to the south is marked by a massive peninsula named Terre de Jedso, populated with the Tartares d'Ypi. This extends southwards towards Japan, suggesting a peninsular Hokkaido and to the east are the Isle des Etats and Terre de la Compagnie. These features derive from the explorations of Maerten de Vries and Cornelis Jansz Coen, who explored the coast of Sakhalin - here attached to the Jedso/ Yupi peninsula. The islands extending to the northeast likely represent Vries and Coen’s discovery of the Japanese Kuril Islands of Kunashir and Iturop, the latter of which has been identified as 'Terre de la Compagnie' and includes a note indicating its previous discovery by João da Gama (c. 1540 – after 1591), who reportedly crossed the North Pacific in the 1580s, in the process mapping some of the Kuril Islands, possibly some of the Aleutians, and potentially even part of the American Coast. Jaillot's atlas map of Asia includes a peninsula of Yupi, a Terre des Etats and Terre de la Compagnie expanding into a broader Terre de Iesso; the 1719 Jaillot wall map reproduces his Yupi. But neither of these show the peninsula with the level of detail that appears on the Mortier, which includes many more place names along the Sakhalin coast and which are probably sourced from Witsen, who in 1692 came to possess the diary of Maarten Gerritsz Vries, who had reached Batavia after his 1643 expedition but would die in or after the 1646 Battles of La Naval de Manila.
The First Details of Joseon Korea
The question of the priority of this map versus Jaillot's wall map is particularly acute with respect to Korea, the topography and the place names for which appear to be virtually unique among contemporaneous maps. In particular, the regional Korean place names of Thillado, Tiongsiando, and Sengado, as well as the city names of Heynam, Sansiangh, Chentio, Saysiang, Consio, and Sior (That is, Seoul) all appear first either on the 1695 Jaillot, or the 1696 Mortier. The significance of this lies in Jaillot's source: all these names are drawn from the 1668 narrative of the Dutch sailor Hendrick Hamel (1630-1692), who spent thirteen years (1653-1666) shipwrecked in Joseon Korea. Upon his escape to Japan, he wrote an account of his travels; several versions of this were published in the Netherlands in 1668, but apparently with little impact on the maps of that era. The place names appearing on virtually every other map of the region derive from the Italian Jesuit Martino Martini, whose travels in China resulted in the first western atlas of China, (printed by Joan Blaeu in 1655) but who never visited either Japan or Korea. Hamel's report of Korea, therefore, was the first by a European to actually live there. The place name Sior does appear on Pierre DuVal's 1676 map of Asia, as well as Hamal's term for Jeju ( Quelpart). Jaillot's 1692 map of Asia shows some of the Hamal names - Sior, Consio, 'Sagsiang/Saysiang' - but strains to fit them into a narrow, Sanson-style peninsula. Hamal's information seems only to appear in a systematic fashion only on either the 1695 Jaillot or the 1696 Mortier. It therefore seems that Hamel's report had reached Paris by the 1670s but that its data had not been fully digested. Witsen himself was certainly aware of Hamel's report, and he would include it in the expanded, 1705 edition of his Noord en Oost Tartarye. His map of Tartary did not reach far enough south for the Hamel information to be included, and he might simply have not considered it relevant for inclusion in the 1687 edition of his book: it is possible that either he, or Mortier independently, could have included Hamel's Korean place names on the 1696 map. A final determination of the priority of the Mortier over the Jaillot wall map for this information will not be possible without close scrutiny of the latter. But whether the inclusion of Hamel's information occurred first on Jaillot's wall map or the Mortier, its appearance here is the first that is available to a collector.
The Inset Maps
In the upper right hand corner are two detail maps; one focuses on the explorations in northern China of Verbiest, showing the route from Peking to the Chinese frontier in northern Korea, in particular the cities of Leaotung and Ula - this representing the closest that the Jesuit cartographers had come to reaching the Korean peninsula firsthand. The lower of the two presents an alternative mapping of Nova Zembla, supposing that the arctic island might actually be a peninsula connected not only to mainland Russia, but also to Greenland. The phrasing of the French text implies Witsen's disbelief: 'Some modern authors want Greenland… to be contiguous with the country called Zemble, and that what we call Vaygats Strait is a gulf; and for this reason they say that there is communication by land of Tartary and Muscovy with its northern countries....'
Publication History and Census
This map was engraved for inclusion in Pieter Mortier's 1696 edition of Hubert Jaillot's Atlas Nouveau Contenant Toutes Les Parties du Monde; it would appear in later editions of that work with only decorative changes (mainly the addition of ships in the Pacific and the 'Mer de Tartarie'.) It would sometimes be bound untitled as separate sheets, or joined under the pasted-on title of 'Carte Nouvelle de la Grande Tartarie, par Monsieur N. Witsen, Bourgemaistre etc. etc. A Amsterdam. Dressee sur les Degrees de Sr. Sanson. Se vend chez Pierre Mortier' as here. A dozen examples are listed in OCLC; it is scarce on the market.


Pierre Mortier (January 26, 1661 - February 18, 1711) or Pieter Mortier was a cartographer, engraver, and print seller active in Amsterdam during the later 17th and early 18th centuries. Mortier, then known as Pieter, was born in Leiden. He relocated to Paris from 1681 to 1685, adopting the French name Pierre, which he retained throughout his career. While in France, he developed deep French connections by bringing sophisticated Dutch printing technology and experience to nascent French map publishers such as Guillaume De L'Isle (1675 - 1726), Alexis-Hubert Jaillot (c. 1632 - 1712), and Nicholas de Fer (1646 - 1720). Consequently, much of Mortier's business was built upon issuing embellished high quality editions of contemporary French maps - generally with the permissions of their original authors. In the greater context of global cartography, this was a significant advantage as most Dutch map publishes had, at this point, fallen into the miasma of reprinting their own outdated works. By contrast, the cartographers of France were producing the most accurate and up to date charts anywhere. Mortier's cartographic work culminated in the magnificent nautical atlas, Le Neptune Francois. He was awarded the Privilege, an early form of copyright, in 1690. Upon Pierre's death in 1711 this business was inherited by his widow. In 1721, his son Cornelius Mortier took over the day to day operation of the firm. Cornelius partnered with his brother-in-law Jean Covens to form one of history's great cartographic partnerships - Covens and Mortier - which continued to publish maps and atlases until about 1866. Learn More...

Alexis-Hubert Jaillot (c. 1632- 1712) followed Nicholas Sanson (1600 - 1667) and his descendants in ushering in the great age of French Cartography in the late 17th and 18th century. The publishing center of the cartographic world gradually transitioned from Amsterdam to Paris following the disastrous inferno that destroyed the preeminent Blaeu firm in 1672. Hubert Jaillot was born in Franche-Comte and trained as a sculptor. When he married the daughter of the enlumineur de ala Reine, Nicholas Berey, he found himself positioned to inherit a lucrative map and print publishing firm. When Nicholas Sanson, the premier French cartographer of the day, died Jaillot negotiated with his heirs to republish much of Sanson's work. Though not a cartographer himself, Jaillot's access to the Sanson plates enabled him to publish numerous maps and atlases with only slight modifications and updates to the plates. As a sculptor and an artist, Jaillot's maps were particularly admired for their elaborate and meaningful allegorical cartouches and other decorative elements. Jaillot used his allegorical cartouche work to extol the virtues of the Sun King Louis IV, and his military and political triumphs. These earned him the patronage of the French crown who used his maps in the tutoring of the young Dauphin. In 1686 he was awarded the title of Geographe du Roi, bearing with it significant prestige and the yearly stipend of 600 Livres. Jaillot was one of the last French map makers to acquire this title. Louis XV, after taking the throne, replaced the position with the more prestigious and singular title of Premier Geographe du Roi. Jaillot died in Paris in 1712. His most important work was his 1693 Le Neptune Francois. Jalliot was succeed by his son, Bernard-Jean-Hyacinthe Jaillot (1673 - 1739), grandson, Bernard-Antoine Jaillot (???? – 1749) and the latter's brother-in-law, Jean Baptiste-Michel Renou de Chauvigné-Jaillot (1710 - 1780). Learn More...

Nicolaes Witsen (May 8, 1641 - August 10, 1717) was a Dutch cartographer, diplomat, writer, businessman, and politician. Witsen was born in Amsterdam to the politically powerful Cornelius Jan Witsen, burgomaster, head bailiff and administrator of the Dutch West India Company. Witsen studied Law at the University of Leiden where he developed an interest in language and maps. He was highly educated and traveled in elite circle, befriending Oliver Cromwell, Andrew Vinius, Cosimo III de'Medici, Melchisédech Thévenot, and others. In 1662 he presented a paper at the Amsterdam Athenaeum Illustre arguing for the effect of comets on earthly life. Witsen joined the VOC (Dutch East India Company) became an expert on shipbuilding, composing several treatises on the subject. His passion, however, remained cartography, particularly the cartography of Asia. Having traveled in embassy to Russia, Witsen contrived to get special access to Russian records on the exploration of Siberia, including the heretofore unknown explorations of Semyon Dezhnev. He also acquired the diary of Maarten Gerritsz Vries, who had explored the coast of Sakhalin in 1643. The Vries diary was thereafter lost. This information he compiled into several influential maps and books on Asia which were extensively copied. One result of this work is the Witsen Peninsula - a narrow outcropping of land extending from Siberia that appears on many maps of the early 17th century. Later, Witsen became Mayor of Amsterdam, a position he held some 13 times, and under whose tenure arts flourished. Witsen died in Amsterdam and was buried near his country home in Egmond aan den Hoef. Learn More...

Hendrick Hamel (1630 – 1692) was a Dutch sailor, who would be the first Westerner to provide a first hand account of Joseon Korea. In 1650 he sailed to the Dutch East Indies to gain employ as a bookkeeper with the Dutch East India Company. In 1653, en route to Japan aboard the ship 'De Sperwer' (Sparrowhawk) he and thirty-five other crewmates survived a deadly shipwreck on Jeju Island in South Korea: nearly half the complement of the ship's crew were killed, including the Captain. The survivors remained in custody on Jeju for a year before they were taken to Seoul, the capital. There they were received by King Hyojong (r. 1649 to 1659). Although Hamel and his crewmates were forbidden from ever leaving Korea (as per custom) they were allowed relative freedom of movement within Korea. In September 1666, after thirteen years in Korea, Hamel and seven of his crewmates managed to escape to Japan and the Dutch trade mission at Dejima. During Hamel's time in Dejima he wrote his account of his captivity - not properly a travel diary, so much as a report to the company. Hamel would continue to travel in the East Indies until 1670, but his report appears to have been sent back to the Netherlands with returning crewmates, since several versions of it were published there in 1668, two years before Hamel's return. Learn More...


Mortier, P. and H. Jaillot, Atlas Nouveau Contenant Toutes Les Parties du Monde, (Amsterdam: Mortier) 1696.    


Fine. A joined, untrimmed example with superb original wash and outline color, heightened with gold.


OCLC 733626534.