1866 Guangdong Atlas Maps of Hong Kong, Macao, Pearl River Delta

廣東圖 / [Maps of Guangdong]. - Main View

1866 Guangdong Atlas Maps of Hong Kong, Macao, Pearl River Delta


A remarkable atlas of Guangdong from the late Qing period.


廣東圖 / [Maps of Guangdong].
  1866 (undated)     13 x 15.25 in (33.02 x 38.735 cm)     1 : 150000


This is a fascinating and historically significant portion of the 1866 Qing Era Guangdong Atlas (廣東圖) showing the Pearl River Delta, including Hong Kong and Macao. The atlas was extraordinarily detailed for its time, meticulously naming small villages and minor, uninhabited maritime features.
Atlas Overview
These maps compose the 11th volume (卷十一) of the atlas, showing both sides of the southernmost portion of the Pearl River Delta, including Hong Kong and what is now Shenzhen to the east, and Macao along with portions of the present-day municipalities of Zhongshan, Zhuhai, and Jiangmen to the west. The maps utilize a grid system, common in the Chinese cartographic tradition, that corresponds to a map of the entire province on a larger scale (總圖) that constitutes the first volume of the atlas.

Compared to a map of Guangdong today, some place names are entirely unchanged, while others have been modified somewhat (for example, 九星洋 to 九州頭), possibly due to differences between Cantonese and Mandarin, and in other cases are completely different, due to both historical and geographic reasons, such as landfill and changes in the coastline. Throughout, symbols are used along coastal waters, the meaning of which are not always clear. The small dots appear to represent shoals and reefs that are dangerous for ships, while the larger dots in a line may indicate the safest route for ships to transit the waters.
Hong Kong and Environs
Following the composite image, the second image above illustrates the area around Hong Kong, including much of what is now Shenzhen, the boom town and special economic zone that has become one of China's largest cities in the past forty years. The pages are titled for Xin'an (新安), which is now a residential area in Bao'an District, Shenzhen. Hong Kong Island (香港) is just to the right of the dividing line between the two pages, while Kowloon (with its government office 九龍司 and fortifications 九龍寨汎, the latter coming to be known as the 'Kowloon Walled City,' 九龍寨城) and its tip opposite Hong Kong Island at Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙嘴) are visible to its north. At left is the eastern portion of Lantau Island and surrounding islands, including Lamma Island (here as 南了).

No mention is made of the British presence on Hong Kong Island (since 1842) or Kowloon (since 1860), though in the latter case this is less remarkable, as Kowloon was mainly a buffer zone and not a site of significant settlement circa 1866 that was used by the British mainly for hunting. However, it was home to the just-mentioned government yamen (衙門) and fortifications, which had in fact long long predated the British, back to the Song Dynasty. The nearby presence of the British gave Kowloon renewed importance for the Qing as they tried to observe and control interactions with the Crown Colony. After the borders of Hong Kong were extended in 1898 with a 99-year lease, the Qing fortification was retained as an enclave of Chinese sovereign territory within the British leased territory.

The fortified area remained a sticking point between Britain and China for the next century, until the eve of Hong Kong's handover (return) to Chinese sovereignty. As the British were unsure of what to do with it but reluctant to grant the Chinese government full control over the enclave, the area became home to many squatters and refugees from conflicts in the mainland, as well as a hotbed of organized crime and drugs. The Japanese destroyed the wall during World War II to build the nearby Kai Tak Airport, but the layout and name of the area remained. After the war, the population of the area skyrocketed as refugees fled the Chinese Civil War on the mainland, likely making it the most densely populated neighborhood in an already very densely populated city. Ramshackle apartment buildings were set up with no safety standards, leading to many fires and risk of buildings collapsing. Structures were lined up with no space between them and residents built passageways across roofs and between buildings, so that one could transit the entire 2.6 hectare area without ever touching the ground. Less so than proper streets, groups of buildings were separated by alleyways so narrow that residents could shake hands with their neighbors on the other side of the street.

The area became a symbol of British indifference to poverty in Hong Kong, prompting efforts to reduce crime and institute basic safety and health standards, part of a wider anti-poverty campaign in the last years of British rule in Hong Kong. Eventually, on the eve of Britain's handover of Hong Kong, it was decided to demolish the area and replace it with a park. To Chinese nationalists, the walled city was a clear manifestation of imperial aggression against China and British indifference towards the people of Hong Kong, as well as a product of the perversions cause by leased territories on Chinese land. But since the area's demolition and Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty, a degree of nostalgia has developed towards the Kowloon Walled City, part of a wider idealization of the ad hoc, chaotic, and even lawless nature of 'old Hong Kong' in contrast to the increasingly austere, efficient, and tightly controlled society that has emerged since 1997.
The pages shown in the third image are named for Xiangshan Island (香山), the main island of the Portuguese colony of Macao (澳門), later renamed Zhongshan in honor of Sun Yat-sen (also known as Sun Zhongshan, 孫中山), often considered the founder of modern China. Lantau Island (here as 大嶼山) is at upper-right, continuing the map from the previous pages, as are some of the outermost islands in the mouth of the Pearl River, such as Sanjiao (三角) and Dalu (大碌). Just above Macao are villages that are now part of the municipality of Zhuhai, a city that, like Shenzhen, had grown rapidly since being designated a special economic zone in the 1980s.
The Western Edge of the Pearl River Delta
The pages shown in the fourth image, titled 'Xiangshan, Xinhui, Xinning' (香山, 新會, 新寧), show what is now the southern and western portions of Zhuhai Municipality. The island at bottom noted as Mt. Daning (大甯山) has been connected to the mainland with landfill. The village of Sanzao (三灶) is the site of an airport originally built by the Japanese during World War II, then taken over by the Chinese after the war and eventually switched to civilian use, inaugurated with brand new facilities in the early 1990s. Given the rapid growth of Zhuhai in recent years, the airport has undergone several upgrades to accommodate more passengers and become the city's main international airport, along with nearby Macau International Airport. At left is Taishan (often known as Toishan) County, Jiangmen, the homeland of many migrants to the Untied States during the California Gold Rush.
The Taiping Rebellion
The production of this atlas cannot be divorced from its context. Guangdong was profoundly affected in the 1850s and early 1860s by the Taiping Rebellion. This was an uprising beginning in southern China led by Hong Xiuquan (洪秀全), a native of Guangdong and a failed imperial exam candidate who had been indirectly exposed to Christianity and developed a new religion combining elements of Christianity and Chinese folk culture. Although their religious zealotry and puritanism alienated many, the Taiping addressed several serious problems in Qing society, in particular socio-economic inequality, which allowed them to rapidly gain adherents. The Taiping spread quickly in southern China, capturing Nanjing in 1853. After that point, the Qing were able to muster an effective defense, while also putting down several other rebellions and fighting a second Opium War against Western powers, largely due to the efforts of highly capable officials like Zeng Guofan and Li Hongzhang.

The Taiping Rebellion left deep scars on China's society and political economy, including perhaps 20 million dead, widespread destruction, and the devolution of central power to provincial interests. This atlas was published in the immediate aftermath of the struggle, when diehard Taiping forces were still fighting in the mountain and border regions of China. Since Hong Xiuquan was a Hakka (a subgroup of the Han ethnicity with its own language and cultural traditions concentrated in China's southern provinces), Qing reprisals against Hakkas were intense, and some sources claim that thousands of Hakka were executed daily in the rebellion's last stage. Even still, Guangdong remained a deeply problematic place for the Qing Court based in distant Beijing. Aside from the issue of Hakkas and their conflicts with more established local groups (Punti), the province was also worrying because of the persistence of a distinct Cantonese (Yue) identity, the presence of British, Portuguese, and later French enclaves, and the area's other connections with the outside world, including large populations of overseas Chinese with family remaining in Guangdong. All these factors played a role in repeated uprisings against the Qing in its final years, which were financed and often planned from abroad.
Publication History and Census
These maps constitute the 11th volume (卷十一) of the 23 volume Guangdong Atlas (廣東圖), published in 1865 (Tongzhi 4) or 1866 (Tongzhi 5) to accompany a longer geographic work about the province (廣東圖説). Both works are often cataloged as having an anonymous author, though the Qing official Mao Hongbin (毛鴻賓) is sometimes credited. Most often, however, Gui Wencan et al (桂文燦等) are listed as editors, while Chen et al (陳等) are credited for producing the maps. In any event, both works were certainly a collective effort involving local literati and Qing officials. This atlas is one of a series dealing with Guangdong (including 廣東輿地全圖, 廣東全圖, 廣東全省輿圖) that were published in the late Qing, unsurprisingly given the province's size and economic importance. The present atlas is included in the catalogs of a small handful of institutions in North America, Europe, and China.


Very good.


OCLC 34273881, 47783078.