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1890 Meiji Era Japanese Manuscript Map of Asia

Asia. - Main View

1890 Meiji Era Japanese Manuscript Map of Asia


Extraordinary Meiji Era Japanese manuscript map of Asia.


  1890 (circa, undated)     21.5 x 28 in (54.61 x 71.12 cm)     1 : 15958377


A beautiful Japanese hand drawn or manuscript map of Asia drawn in the Meiji period, c. 1890. The map covers the whole of Asia from Italy and Arabia to Japan and from the Arctic to Singapore and the east Indies. Based on the development of the rail system, especially the Trans-Siberian Railroad, we are able to approximately date this to the Meiji Period. The document has been masterfully illustrated on fine Japanese tissue with regions, cities, rivers, and oceans identified in Japanese. The disputed body of water between Japan and Korea - either the Sea of Japan, Sea of Korea, or east Sea, depending on which country has mapped it, is here identified in favor of Japan. The Great Wall of China is clearly presented and topography as rendered in crude hachure. The map is significantly larger than an initial appraisal might suggest measuring a full 21.5 x 28 inches.


Japanese cartography appears as early as the 1600s. Japanese maps are known for their exceptional beauty and high quality of workmanship. Early Japanese cartography has its own very distinctive projection and layout system. Japanese maps made prior to the appearance of Commodore Perry and the opening of Japan in the mid to late 1850s often have no firm directional orientation, incorporate views into the map proper, and tend to be hand colored woodblock prints. This era, from the 1600s to the c. 1855, which roughly coincides with the Tokugawa or Edo Period (1603-1886), some consider the Golden Age of Japanese Cartography. Most maps from this period, which followed isolationist ideology, predictably focus on Japan. The greatest cartographer of the period, whose work redefined all subsequent cartography, was Ino Tadataka (1745 -1818). Ino's maps of Japan were so detailed that, when the European cartographers arrived they had no need, even with their far more sophisticated survey equipment, to remap the region. Later Japanese maps, produced in the late Edo and throughout the Meiji period, draw heavily upon western maps as models in both their content and overall cartographic style. While many of these later maps maintain elements of traditional Japanese cartography such as the use of rice paper, woodblock printing, and delicate hand color, they also incorporate western directional orientation, projection systems, and structural norms. Even so, Japan's isolationist policy kept most western maps from reaching Japan so even 19th century maps appear extremely out of date. The early Japanese maps copy the great 1602 Chinese world map of the friar Matto Ricci. After Shiba Kokan's 1792 map, most Japanese cartographers used Covens and Mortier's 1730 copy of Jaillot's 1689 double hemisphere work as their base world-view. In 1862 Seiyo Sato based a new world map on Dutch sources dating to 1857, thus introducing the Mercator projection to Japan. By the late Meiji Era, western maps became far more common in Asia and Japanese maps began to follow modern conventions. More by this mapmaker...


Very good. Some wear on original fold lines, especially at fold intersections.