1931 Diakoff Pictorial Wall Map of China

A Map of China. / 象形中華民國人物輿地全圖 / Xiàngxíng Zhōnghuá Mínguó Rénwù Yúdì Quántú (Pictorial Full Map of the People and Geography of the Republic of China.) - Main View

1931 Diakoff Pictorial Wall Map of China


Russian and Chinese relations before the Mukden Incident.


A Map of China. / 象形中華民國人物輿地全圖 / Xiàngxíng Zhōnghuá Mínguó Rénwù Yúdì Quántú (Pictorial Full Map of the People and Geography of the Republic of China.)
  1931 (dated)     60.5 x 80.5 in (153.67 x 204.47 cm)     1 : 3200000


John A. Diakoff's spectacular 1931 pictorial wall map of China, published in Harbin. This is a true masterpiece, being one of the most extraordinary pictorial maps and the best specifically of China. The map mixes the cultural and historical with persuasive elements suggestive of both pro-Chinese and pro-Russian positions - not as diametrically opposed as one might have assumed in 1931, when the greatest threat to China was Japan. In the same year this map was issued, the Japanese staged a confrontation at the Northern Manchuria Railroad hub of Mukden, leading to the infamous Mukden Incident and the Japanese seizure of Manchuria. That none of these events are indicated here suggests this map was issued before September 1931.
A Closer Look
This enormous and lavish chromolithograph map of China was compiled in 1931 by John A. Diakoff, drawn by G. Primakoff, and printed by Yao-Hsiun. The map covers China from Kashgar to Taiwan, including neighboring Korea, Japan, Mongolia, and Nepal. All lands within China are rich in color and detail with countless vignettes illustrating a diversity of plant and animal life, human cultures, architectures, and resources. Text and annotations throughout are in both English and Chinese. Regions outside China, like Japan, Korea, and India, are also heavily illustrated with vignettes, but are not in color.
Political Persuasion
Diakoff's map, ostensibly intended for Chinese school children in Harbin, hints as some of his political positions. For example, it suggests that Russians remained active in Manchuria - which in 1931 they were not. Harbin is represented by a nonracially distinct railroad employee in Cossack dress. The inclusion of Tibet within the borders of China is another unusual choice, considering that Tibet threw off the yolk of Qing rule in 1912 and was not annexed into the Republic of China until 1951. Taiwan, at the time a Japanese colony, is here color coded as part of China. Diakoff appears to have been expressing support for China's historical claims. It is of note that the title suggests that the map was 'approved by the Department of Education of the three Eastern Provinces', suggesting that the inclusion of China's territorial claims may have been intended to appease this board.
Russians in Harbin
The first Russian émigrés in Harbin were employees and builders of the Chinese Eastern Railway. This first generation of Harbin Russians built almost all of Harbin from scratch and the city became the administrative center of the Chinese Eastern Railway. Harbin was an established Russian 'colony' by 1913 and was home to fifty-three different nationalities that spoke forty-five different languages. During the Russian Revolution and the Russian Civil War between 100,000 and 200,000 White Russians (supporters of the deposed Czar) flooded in Harbin. The Chinese government declared on September 8, 1920, that it no longer recognized the Russian consulates in China, and in doing so rendered all Russian citizens living in China stateless. Four years later, the Soviets and the Chinese reached an agreement that only Soviet citizens could work on the Chinese Eastern Railway. Thus, former supporters of White Russia had to make the choice to remain stateless or become Soviet citizens. Many picked Soviet citizenship, but some chose to remain stateless. After the Japanese invasion in 1931, tens of thousands of Russians left Harbin and fled either to the Soviet Union or to southern Chinese cities, including Shanghai. Many of these refugees eventually made their way to the United States, Australia, or South America. By the mid-1960s, all of Harbin's Russians had left the city.
Chromolithography is a color lithographic technique developed in the mid-19th century. The process involved using multiple lithographic stones, one for each color, to yield a rich composite effect. Oftentimes, the process would start with a black basecoat upon which subsequent colors were layered. Some chromolithographs used 30 or more separate lithographic stones to achieve the desired effect. Chromolithograph color could also be effectively blended for even more dramatic results. The process became extremely popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when it emerged as the dominate method of color printing. The vivid color chromolithography produced made it exceptionally effective for advertising and propaganda imagery.
Publication History and Census
This map was designed by John A. Diakoff (Ivan Andreevich D'Iakov) in 1931. It was drawn by G. Primakoff and engraved by P. Sergeeff. These latter individuals are difficult to trace due to both the incompleteness, anglicization, and commonality of their names. Primakoff is most likely 'Перминов' and Surgeeff is most likely ' Сергеев', but beyond this, there are at least three possibilities for Primakoff and two for Surgeeff. The map was published by the Northern Trading Company (Северн. Торг. Ко), based in Harbin. The name of a Harbin-Chinese lithographer, V. F. Yao-Hsiun is also associated with the map, and it is believed he may have been the actual printer. Examples are uncommon and highly desirable.


Ivan Andreevich D'Iakov (Дьяков Иван Андреевич; September 14, 1881 - August 23, 1969), commonly Anglicized as John A. Diakoff, was a Russian orientalist and traveler in Asia. D'Iakov was born in Kishal, Tambov province, Russia. A scientist and orientalist, D'Iakov conducted research in the pacific islands, borneo, and hong kong. He came to Harbin, Manchuria, from Hong Kong in 1931. There he established himself as was scientific collaborator of the Russian Orientalist Society, a group of Russian scholars (and many say spies) based in Harbin, China. He was also an inspector of Russian schools and in 1945 was teaching at the St. Nicholas School in Harbin. He returned to Russia around 1950, fleeing the Cultural Revolution. There he served as the region of Morshansk, Tambov, until his death in 1969. He is known for one map, an impressive pictorial map of China published for academic purposes in Harbin, 1931. He is also the author of several works on sinology and the Russian experience in Harbin. More by this mapmaker...


Very good. Dissected on linen. Overall toning due to old varnish. Laid down on original linen - which has been reinforced in places. Some edge wear to map and to individual panels.


Library of Congress, Map Division, G7821.A5 1931. P7., 2016587371.