12 antique map China Korea and Japan / Mercator-Hondius 105


Description: antique China map, with Korea and Japan – Mercator-Hondius


“China” Copper engraving made by Gerard Mercator published in Amsterdam in 1634 by Jodocus Hondius. Verso Dutch text. Coloured by a later hand. Size: 34 x 47 cm.

Of the lands in the Far East, China was seen as the wealthiest and most mysterious and the Jesuit missionairies were among the first to make the dangerous journey.

Geographically the map is an interesting array of fact and fiction. The map contains rudimentary geographical information, as there was very little actually known of the region during the early part of the seventeenth century. The two most prominent features of this survey are the portrayal of the peninsula of Korea and the charming illustration China’s great wall, a wonder of both ancient and modern worlds. There is also a note porporting to be the location of the palace of the emperor of China. Despite the odd elongation of the country, there are attemps to show various provinces, and seven great cities such as Canton are marked. The interior of China is dominated by several large lakes and the mythical Chiamai Lacus forms the headwaters of five large rivers in northeastern India. The northwest coastline of America appears in the upper top corner with a notation that refers to the Tartar hordes (and the deer) that inhabit the region.

As ever in these early maps seamonsters stalk unwary ships and Hondius shows a Dutch merchant sailing on what is labeled as “Chinensis Oceanus”. This ocean is portrayed with an elaborate and beautiful pattern which attempts to portray the movement of the waves. The islands of Japan also feature on this beautiful map, together with the portrayal of a Japanese craft. In one cartouche, a scene depicts the Japanese persecution of a Christian missionary, probably a reference to the martyrdoms in Nagasaki in 1597. It was this conflict that ultimately led to Japan becoming a closed country for several centuries. Although the cartouche of the map is neither overly large or ornate, it balances the map beautifully with an elegant strapwork design. Beneath it is another charactaristic vignette on maps of China of this early period, showing a wagon powered by sails which Marco Polo swore were in common use at the time.

Jodocus Hondius (1563-1612) was the founder of the famous 17th century Dutch map publishing family. Hondius, along with sons Jodocus II and Henricus and son-in-law Jan Janssonius, was prominent in Dutch cartography and competed with the emerging Blaeu family map business.

When Jodocus Hondius acquired the copperplates of Gerard Mercator’s atlas, he prepared this map for inclusion in his Atlas sive Cosmographicae…, first published in 1606.This map is from the Dutch edition: Atlas ofte Afbeeldinghe vande gantse Weerldt, dated 1634.

Price: €2.250,- (excl. VAT/BTW)
  • Number: 1050061
  • Dealer: Speculum Orbis Nauticum

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