There is another interesting map of this kind in the Hosyoin temple in the Siba Park at Tokyo, reproduced as frontispiece in the second volume of the travels of Yu-ho Den, in the collection of Buddhist books, 1917, and entitled Sei-eki Zu [Map of the Western Regions].  It is accompanied by two documents, also reproduced in the book. They give the source of the map and collate and correct the inscriptions it contains.

Go Tenjiku Zu [Map of the Five Regions of India], 1364, 177 x 166.5 cm

Lake Anotatta and the four great rivers are shown toward the top of the center. The entries in the boxes in the sea part of the manuscript are extracts from the Da Tang xiyu ji. Horyu-ji Temple, Nara.

Interpretative drawing of the Go Tenjiku Zu [Map of the Five Regions of India]

Interpretative drawing of the Gotenjiku Zu [Map of the Five Regions of India]. This traditional Buddhist depiction of the civilized world (mainly India and the Himalayan regions, with a token nod to China) divides India into five regions: north, east, south, west and central India. Each of these five regions is again divided into many kingdoms – those current during the career of Buddha. The Himalayas are shown as snow-capped peaks in the center of the map, and Mount Sumeru, the mythical center of the cosmos, is depicted in the whirlpool-like form. A much reduced China (Chang’an is visible on the plain at the upper right) is labeled “Great Tang”. Directly across from China, over the stormy seas, the islands of Kyushu and Shikoku and the form of Honshu can be detected.

According to these documents Hiuen-tchoang, while on his travels in the Indies, found the original of the map, and, after having marked on it in vermilion ink the route he had followed, he placed it in the T’sing-loung-tseu [Blue Dragon Temple] at Tch’ang-ngan, then the capital of China. Huei-kuo (746- 805), chief priest of the temple, presented it to Kukai (774-835), his best Japanese disciple, when he returned to his own country. He placed it in the Tozi Temple, which he founded at Kyoto. Much later a priest named Komatudani presented it to the 41st chief priest of the temple Zozyozi at Yedo.  The latter, delighted with this wonderful Buddhist geographical treasure, and deeming it too rare and important to keep to himself, caused another copy of it to be made, for what he had received was only a rough sketch. Ninkai, Ryoseki and Dyogetu drew the map, while Ryogetu, Keigi and Zyunsin added the place-names, collating and correcting them according to the Si-yü-ki and other works. The copy was finished in 1736.

These editors made history by quoting many Chinese books on the title of the map, which was originally Go Tenjuku Zu [Map of the Five Indies”] and which, in their opinion, was not correct, since it dealt not only with the Indies but with the western regions also. They called it, therefore, the Map of Western Regions.

This information is not easy to accept, since it often confuses the copy and the original.  Moreover it is impossible that the map should have been of Indian origin, and it is doubtful that it was constructed by Hiuen-tchoang, seeing that it shows an area greater even than the Indies. According to Nakamura, it was drawn by someone else, after his return, to illustrate the story of his travels, and that the map given to Kukai by his master was a copy, and not the original. But whatever the authorship of the map there is no doubt that it was brought from China by a religious student, whether Kukai or another. To decide this question other more ancient and more authentic materials are necessary.


                                                                                    Go Tenjiku Zu, Mt Meru


From the point of view of date alone the Hosyoin copy is not interesting, for we know of many other similar specimens much older.  An example of Japanese world maps representing Buddhist cosmology can be seen in the earliest map of this type, the Nansenbushu Bankoku Shoka no Zu [Outline Map of All the Countries of the Jambu-dvipa]. Nansen Bushu is a Buddhist word derived from the Sanskrit, Jambu-dvipa, or the southern continent. Jambudvipa is the Indian name for the great continent south of the cosmic Mount Meru, marked on this map by a central spiral. Meru is the archetypal pilgrimage site. Drawn by a Japanese Buddhist monk of the Kegon sect and published in Kyoto in 1710, this map is based on earlier Japanese Buddhist world maps that illustrate the pilgrimage to India of the Chinese monk Xuanzang (602–664). Hotan has not drawn the route of this famous pilgrim here, but the toponymy of India and Central Asia accords with Xuanzang’s account.

In 1710 (Hoei 7th year) this large (1 m 45 cm x 1 m 15 cm) woodcut map, supplied with a detailed explanatory text in Chinese, was published at Kyoto by a priest named Rokashi Hotan, under the pseudonym of Zuda Rokwa Si (died in 1738 at age 85).  It is not a faithful copy of the preceding, but has many corrections and additions. The most striking innovation is an indication of Europe to the northwest of the central continent, and of the New World in an island to the southeast.

This map is a great example for Japanese world maps representing Buddhist cosmology with real world cartography. It is the earliest one and, therefore, the prototype for Buddhist world maps. They all represent a large, imaginary India, where Buddha was born, as the heart of the world, but also depictions of Europe and the New World. During this time period Japan maintained an isolationist policy which began in 1603 with the Edo period under the military ruler Tokugawa Ieyasu, and lasting for nearly 270 years. Although knowing the world map by Matteo Ricci, published in Peking in 1602, Japanese maps mainly showed a purely Sino-centric view, or, with acknowledge-ment of Buddhist traditional teaching, the Buddhist habitable world with an identifiable Indian sub-continent. The map was drawn by the scholar-priest Zuda Rokashi, founder of Kegonji Temple in Kyoto, and illustrates the fusion of existing Buddhist and poorly known European cartography. The language is Chinese, except for a few Japanese characters on the illustrations of European countries. Europe is shown at upper left as a group of islands, which can be identified from Iceland to England, Scandinavia, Poland, Hungary and Turkey, but deliberately deleting the Iberian Peninsula. At the lower right South America is featured as an island south of Japan with a small peninsula as part of Central America, carrying just a few place-names including four Chinese characters whose phonetic Japanese reading is “A-ME-RI-KA”. North of Japan, a land bridge joins Asia with an unnamed landmass, presumably North America. Africa is not shown at all.

On the other hand, this map is much more than a world map and the main concept by the author was to celebrate a historically very important event. The map echoes the pilgrimage route of the famous Chinese Buddhist priest Hsuan-Tsang (or Xuan Zhuang, Genjo in Japanese; 602-664 A.D.), who travelled to India to visit sacred places of Buddhism and also to collect holy Sanskrit writings. The largest part of the map is dedicated to Jambudvipa with the sacred Lake of Anavatapta (Lake Manasarovar in the Himalayas, a whirlpool-like quadruple helix lake believed to be the center of the universe and, in Buddhist mythology, to be the legendary site where Queen Maya conceived the Buddha). From the quadruple beast headed helix (heads of a horse, a lion, an elephant, and an ox) of Manasarovar or Lake Anavatapta radiate the four sacred rivers of the region: the Indus, the Ganges, the Bramaputra [Oxus], and the Sutlej [Tarim]. In essence this is a traditional Buddhist world-view in the Gotenjikuzu mold centered on the world-spanning continent of Jambudvipa.                                                          Nansenbushu Bankoku Shoka no (Mt Meru)

This all was based on the Japanese version of Hsuan-Tsang’s Chinese narrative, the Si-yu-ki, printed as late as 1653. Here numerous details are given, including the interesting feature of the so-called “iron-gate”, shown as a strongly over-sized square, and the path taken by the monk whilst crossing the forbidden mountain systems after leaving Samarkand. Also, in the upper left corner there are 102 references from Buddhist holy writings and Chinese annals that are mentioned to increase the credibility of the map. Strong impression, printed on several sheets of native paper, joined; colored fully in yellow and ochre, and a few marks in red. In the upper inscription there is a red owner seal and a blue stamp with an Arabic number.

In the preface, in the upper margin of the sheet, are listed the titles of no less than 102 works, Buddhist writings, Chinese annals, etc., both religious and profane, which the author consulted when making his map.  Hotan says in the Santshai-thou-hoei, the Thou-chou-pien, the Ming-yi-thong-tchi and others, both the situation and the extent of countries are often false because of the lack of knowledge of Sanskrit.  After careful study of the Fo-tsou-t’ong-ki map, and of the mistakes he had found in it, he had concluded that the draughtsman had drawn solely upon the Si-yü-ki, and not upon other sources, such as, for example, the Chi-kia-fang-chi and the Tshan’entchoan, for his nomenclature. Hence the mistakes. Even in those remote times, he says, there existed manuscript maps, named Go-Tenziku-Zu [Map of the Five Indies] in the most famous temples, but they were even worse than that of the Fo-tsou-t’ong-ki. In spite of this author’s boasting his map is, in reality, according to Nakamura nothing but a mutilated copy of the “Map of the Five Indies,” made up from a confusion of heterogeneous and anachronistic materials, and including topographic names from the time of the Chan-hai-king up to modern times, some betraying European influence. This map became the prototype of Buddhist world maps, the Nan-en-budai Shokoku Shuran no Zu (a world map), the date of which is still uncertain, and the Sekai Daiso Zu (a world map), En-bu-dai-Zu (a world map), Tenjuku Yochi Zu (a map of India), a trilogy by Sonto, a Buddhist, are derived from Hotan’s world map. The special features of these maps are the representation of an imaginary India, where Buddha was born, and the illustration of the religious world as expounded by Buddhists.

In the Buddhist world maps or Shumi world, the space for the regions called Nan-sen-bu and Nan-en-budai, etc. (equivalent to the continents on the real earth) is very small.  It has been maintained that their artists could not have closed their eyes, as far as these parts are concerned, to the objective world maps made in Europe. But these maps treat India as the heart of their world, and consequently we can say that they never recognized the European world maps. In their maps the Buddhists connected the Five Continents with the Spiritual World where the spirit of human beings must go after death. In these maps we find confusion of the visionary world and the real. Hotan’s world map was so popular that it is not difficult to find today.

South of Jambudvipa, India is recognizable for in its peninsular form. Japan itself appears as a series of islands in the upper right and, like India, is one of the few recognizable elements – at least
from a cartographic perspective. China and Korea appear to the west of Japan and are vaguely identifiable geographically, which itself represents a significant advancement over the Gotenjikuzu map. Southeast Asia also makes one of its first appearances in a Japanese Buddhist map as an island cluster to the east of India.

This map can be described as a characteristic specimen of the type of early East Asiatic maps whose main distinctive feature is their completely unscientific character. They are based not on objective geographical knowledge or surveys but only on the more or less legendary statements in the Buddhist literature and Chinese works of the most diverse types, which are moreover represented in an anachronistic mixture. Thus, on this map we see, in addition to the mythical Anukodatchi-pond which represents the center of the universe and from which flow four rivers in the four cardinal directions, in the left-hand upper corner of the map a region designated as Euroba, around which are grouped, clockwise, the following named countries: Umukari (Hungary?), Oranda, Barantan, Komo (Holland, the country of the redhaired), Aruhaniya (Albania), Itaryia (Italy), Suransa (France) and Inkeresu (England). Europe, which had no place at all in earlier Buddhist world maps, makes this one of the first Japanese maps to depict Europe. Africa appears as a small island in the western sea identified as the “Land of Western Women.” Hiroshi Nakamura regarded this map, therefore, simply a mutilated copy of the Map of the Five Indies which is said to have come to Japan about 835, and a copy of which, dating from the 14th century, is preserved in the Horyuji Temple of Nara, Japan.

Of special note is Rokashi Hotan’s mapping of the Americas. Prior to this map America had rarely if ever been depicted on Japanese maps, so Rokashi Hotan turned to the Chinese map Daimin Kyuhen Zu [Map of China under the Ming Dynasty and its surrounding Countries], from which he copied both the small island-like form of South America (just south of Japan), and the curious land bridge (the Aelutian Islands?) connecting Asia to what the Japanese historians Nobuo Muroga and Kazutaka Unno conclude “must undoubtedly be a reflection of North America”. Whether this represents ancient knowledge from early Chinese navigations in this region, for which there is some literary if not historical evidence, or merely a printing error, we can only speculate.

The copy in question is a reprint published by the book dealer Bundaiken Uhei. The map has been reproduced in Mototsugu Kurita’s atlas Nihon Kohan Chizu Shusei, Tokyo and Osaka, 1932 and in color in Hugh Cortazzi’s Isle of Gold, 1992. Another, almost analogous edition of the same map, also dated 1710, but published by Chobei Nagata in Kyoto, is reproduced in George H. Bean’s, A List of Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era, Jenkintown 1951.

From every point of view, however, the map preserved among the precious objects in the North Pavilion of the Horyuzi Temple at Nara is the most interesting. It is a very large map, 1.67m x 1.78m, magnificently drawn, brightly and agreeably colored, the sea in ultramarine, the mountains in a grayish-green, and Hiuen-tchoang’s itinerary in vermilion. On the verso is the title, Go Tenjiku-Zu, but neither author’s name nor date.  The inscriptions are only partly completed. That in the right-hand margin bears an important notice, which says: “This map was made by the priest Zyukwai, in the fifth month of the third year Teizi.” It is preserved in the convent of the Horyuzi temple. Thus this note gives us the author’s name and the date of the first map of Horyuzi. The date corresponds to the month of May 1365.

The nomenclature of this map, as well as that of the Hosyoin map, is taken from the Si-yü-ki.  They are just the itineraries of Hiuen-tchoang’s travels. Among several maps of this kind that of Horyuzi is certainly the oldest and the most authentic in existence, though even it is not quite free from alterations.  The others are very far from being in their original condition. Japan and Korea, northeast of the central continent, having no connection with the Si-yü-ki, must be later additions. In the Horyuzi and Hoyuzi and Hosyoin maps the Japanese Archipelago is shown by a bird’s eye view, in Hotan’s map and in its reduced reproduction it is shown in plan, adopted from a modern map, and in the Syûgaisyô map Korea has been placed in a rectangle to the northeast of the central continent in place of Japan. Is this because the map is of peninsular origin? All these heterogeneous elements, so different from the other parts of the map are clearly the result of retouching at a later date, so that, in its most authentic form, the map of Hiuen-tchong’s itinerary had doubtless the shape of a shield, with a few small, rocky islands near the south and southeast coasts of the central continent, but without showing either Japan or Korea. The shape of the central continent is just the same as in the Korean mappamundi, as was demonstrated also by the hybrid map.

There must certainly have been formerly in China some examples of Hiuen-tchoang’s itinerary, now long lost, while that taken from China to Japan must have been preserved there through long centuries.  This very precious geographical relic, though it may have undergone some slight alteration, remains nevertheless to shed much light on the development of the Korean mappamundi.

From Nakamura’s examination of a many manuscript and printed Korean mappaemundi he has come to the conclusion that they cannot in themselves be dated earlier than the 16th century. Their content however, their nomenclature, being for the most part that of the Han period, and taking into consideration the periods at which the few additions to that nomenclature have been made, is of a date not latter than the 11th century.

A hybrid map, forming a link between the Korean mappamundi and Hiuent-choang’s itinerary, which dates from the eighth century, causes one to seek further the connection between these two groups of maps to establish the parentage of the Korean mappamundi.

The first portions of this monograph conveys the results of Nakamura’s researches into the nomenclature of these maps from the historical point of view, and into their dates, but it is absolutely necessary to carry out alongside these examinations an investigation of their relationships in configuration, that is to say, to study their morphology.   That is what is proposed for this final portion.

We do not know if Hiuen-tchoang’s itinerary map was known from the commencement as The Map of the Five Indies, although it may commonly have been so called. The editors of the map preserved in the Hosyoin temple insisted that such a title was wrong and renamed it The Map of the Western Regions.  Which is, in Nakamura’s opinion, still not correct, for it contains not only the Western Regions but India and China also, so that Terazima is right in calling it The Map of the Western Regions and of the Indies, the title he gives to his small reproduction of part of Hiuen-thoang’s map.

But by whatever title it may be called, its content is always that of Hiuen-tchoang’s itinerary.  Moreover, its central continent being always entirely surrounded by an immense ocean, it would seem that for its draughtsman this continent represented the whole of the then known world. This idea does not arise simply from the imagination, for the Hindus and the Chinese, like the Greeks, believed that an immense, unnavigable ocean entirely surrounded the habitable world. There is the same idea in the hybrid map and in Hotan’s. In putting forward the idea that the Chinese of the 7th and 8th centuries believed that the geographical knowledge acquired by Hiuen-tchoang in his travels was concerned with the whole of the then known world we are saying that their world had become smaller than that known in the Han period, which is impossible. We shall presently see what really was the extent of geographical and cartographical knowledge in the Thang period.

Rokashi Hotan [Zuda Rokwa Si]’s Nansenbushu Bankoku Shoka no Zu, 1710,
woodblock print, 118 x 1456 cm, Kobe City Museum, Japan.

Contains a list of Buddhist sutras, Chinese histories and other literary classics on the left side of the map title. A land bridge connects China to an unnamed continent in the upper right corner, and the island of Ezo [Japan] with its fief of Matsumae is located slightly to the south of the mystery continent.

Even as far back as the Tcheou Dynasty, Chinese cartography was well established where the court then had regular officials whose duties were concerned with the production and preservation of maps.  Nevertheless certain scholars are doubtful about the positive knowledge of scientific cartography possessed by the Chinese of that period. Yet in face of the number of early references to maps it cannot be doubted that they had, under the Ts’in Dynasty, maps sufficiently exact for their own purposes. Under the Han Dynasty maps played a very important part in political and military affairs, and many of them covered a vast area. The invention of paper at the beginning of the second century, by the eunuch Ts’ai Louen, made possible a great step forward in cartography, thanks to its handiness, and its cheapness compared with wooden or bamboo tablets, or the linen or silk stuffs in use up to that time. At the same time the expansion of geographical knowledge under the Han Dynasty brought out the importance of the invention of paper. But it was not until the middle of the third century that the correct scientific principles for the production of a good map were enunciated. It was P’ei Hsiu, 234-271, who formulated them so that he may rightly be called the father of Chinese cartography. Under the Thangs China had attained to a high degree of civilization, perhaps the highest it has ever reached, and cartography then made remarkable progress. This is the time when the famous Hai-wei-hoa-yi-thou [Map of the Celestial Empire and the Barbarian countries within the seas] was produced and presented to the Emperor by the celebrated cartographer Kia Tan, 730-805.  It was an exact and detailed map 33 feet high and 30 wide, on the scale of one tsoun [a Chinese inch], to a 100 li [a Chinese league] that is, about 1:1,500,000, taking a li as 300 pou [a Chinese pace], and a pou as 5 tchih [a Chinese foot].  It must have covered a vast extent, almost the whole of Asia. To our great regret is has disappeared without any trace, but the author of the stela map at Si-gna-fou, engraved in 1137 (#217), of which the original drawing was made before the middle of the 11th century, said that he had consulted it, and that it contained many hundreds of kingdoms.

Therefore, so far from the area described in Hiuen-tchoang’s travels being the whole of the world known to the Chinese at the Thang period, the world they actually did know was very much greater. Kia Tan’s map is perhaps not a proof of this, since it no longer exists, and was always, in any case, kept secret at the Imperial Court, and so was not easily consulted even by those of the generation in which it was produced.  But there is another extremely important map of this period known to us and existing today.  It is of the whole of Asia, and in the Thang period would have been regarded as a mappamundi. It was originally in scroll form and in three parts, whose dimensions were respectively: 31.5 x 994 cm, 30.7 x 932 cm, and 29.5 x 217 cm. The first and third parts each contain two modern leaves, those of the first part being the preface by Onson Kosugi, 1834-1910, a well-known classicist, and those of the third a Government certificate. The document itself is therefore a scroll about 30 cm high and 18 meters long.

This Sino-Tibetan map, like the imago mundi of the Middle Ages, is simple but grotesque. A score of rectangles clumsily arranged, represent the various countries. The names of the countries, written in the rectangles are in Chinese and Tibetan characters. No one succeeded in deciphering these until Professor Teramoto did so, publishing his findings at the end of 1931 in an article entitled “Relations between Japan and Tibet in the history of Japan” (#208).

The map covers almost the whole of Asia, from the extreme east to Persia and the Byzantine Empire in the west, from the countries of the Uigours, the Kirghis and the Turks in the north to the Indies in the south, an area incomparably wider than that covered by Hiuen-tchoang’s travels. It proves finally, therefore, that Hiuen-tchoang’s map does not represent the whole of the world known to the Chinese at the time of the Thang Dynasty. Both maps came from the same temple so that they must have been co-existent there, and moreover, there is reason to believe that both had their origin at almost the same period. It is not very probable that the originators of these two maps tried deliberately to represent the world in two different ways. Moreover, the geometrical form of the Sino-Tibetan map was foreign to China, so that it must owe something to western influence. For it is a historical fact that, under the Thangs, the Chinese, having conquered the eastern Turks, annexed an immense territory, stretching from Tarbagatai in the north to the Indus in the south, and their national prestige was then at its zenith. They were constantly in touch diplomatically and commercially with Tibet, Persia, Arabia, India and other countries both by land and sea.

This alone is sufficient to prove that the Chinese at this period well knew that the Map of the Five Indies was not of the whole world, but that it extended into the west and north beyond the areas indicated by the Si-yü-ki. Why, then, should the area described by Hiuen-tchoang have been represented in the form of a shield surrounded by an immense ocean? Is it due to the influence of Buddhist or Brahmin cosmography? Did the draughtsman of this Buddhist pilgrim’s itinerary exaggerate, making these travels represent the whole world? Could such an adaptation of the Buddhist cosmography afterwards have become traditional? This could not have been so, for Hiuen’s travels were not always mapped in the form of a shield. There is one map of his journeys, drawn as an itinerary, preserved in the Tongdosa Temple in the province of Kei-shodo (south) in Korea. It is a scroll, 31 to 35.5 cm high and 6.37 meters long, of which 1.49 m on the left is text and the remainder the kind of drawing seen in Latin itineraries. The scroll begins on the extreme right with the Touen-houang region and finishes with Ceylon. It is dated April 1652, lunar calendar, is roughly drawn and has no special interest from the geographical point of view, but it serves to prove that the map of the travels of Hiuen-tchoang was not always drawn in shield form.

The fact that the Chinese represented the geographical content of the Si-yü-ki in world form, without taking the slightest trouble to show the true shape of countries they knew well, not even China itself shows that, at the period of the Thang Dynasty, seventh to eighth century, they had a mappamundi of the Tchien-ha-tchong-do type in common use that they adopted it just as it was, without modifying it at all, and entered on it the Si-yü-ki nomenclature.

Therefore it may be said that the Korean mappamundi had its beginnings at a period rather earlier that than of the Thang Dynasty; that a map very like it in form was introduced into Korea from China at a certain period and, thanks to the development of printing in the 16th century.

There is no doubt that the map by Jên-ch’ao, which also represented Jambu-dvipa as India-centric continent, utilized the Map of the Five Indies for reference, as we can see from the method of drawing both the boundary lines of the Five Indies and the courses of the four big rivers. But the distinctive feature of the map is that China, which had till then occupied a purely notional situation, was represented as a vast country in the eastern part of the continent with place-names of the period of the Ming Dynasty. Evidently the composition of this map owed much to the ideas of Chih-p’an and Jên- ch’ao’s book contains another map entitled Tun-chên-tan-kuo-t’u [Map of the Eastern Region or China], which followed Chih-p’an’s Topographical Map of the Eastern Region or China.  Jên-ch’ao’s map of Jambu-dvipa, however, is no mere combination of three maps in Fo-tsu-t’ung-ki.  In his map we no longer see the juxtaposition of India on the west and China on the east, for India is placed in the center and China to the northeast of India in the eastern quarter of the continent.  As may be read in the text of the Fa-chieh- an-li-t’u, there was a theory that, with the Pamir Plateau as its center, the world could be divided into four quarters, viz., the country of the elephants on the south (India), that of humans on the east (China), that of horses on the north (Mongolia, Central Asia and other regions of the nomadic peoples), and that of treasure on the west (Iran and other western regions). Jên-ch’ao based his map on this theory. Originating from an ancient Indian legend, it had been introduced into China as early as the third century A.D., but it was not until the theory came to be taken up from the seventh century in Buddhist works, such as the Si-yü-ki, that it began to attract wide attention. Belief in this theory may explain why the Map of the Five Indies, in its composition of the world, arranges Chên- tan [China] on the east and Po-szu-kuo [Iran] on the west in opposition to Central Asia and India, though this no more than reflects their geographical position. To sum up, taking over Chih-p’an’s view of China as equal with India, and on the basis of the theory of four divisions of the world implicit in the Map of the Five Indies, Jên-ch’ao tried to reunify the world which had been disintegrated into three regional maps in the Fo-tsu- t’ung-ki, and he thus succeeded in offering an image of the whole of Jambu-dvipa anew.

  We cannot suppose, however, that Jên-ch’ao was the first to produce a map of this type. When we note that his map is not free from errors and omissions due to repeated transcription, and that almost contemporaneously there were maps of closely analogous type, such as the T’u-shu-pien map mentioned below, there is little doubt that maps of this kind had already been produced before by somebody. Possibly one such prototype of Jên-ch’ao’s map, introduced into Japan and repeatedly copied, constituted the greatly transfigured Syûgaisyô map. The forerunner of these maps can therefore be traced back far beyond the end of the Ming Dynasty. Perhaps Jên-ch’ao, too, drew his map on the basis of a map of this type, simultaneously taking the Fo-tsou-t’ong-ki and other new maps for reference.   In this map the Han-hai [Large Sea] is represented as a desert and the River Huang rises in Lake Oden-tala. This shows that Jên-ch’ao consulted some new maps of the Ming period.

At the beginning of the 17th century there appeared another map of Jambu-dvipa. This is the Ssu-hai-hua-i-tsung-t’u [Map of the Civilized World and its Outlying Barbarous Regions within the Four Seas] contained in the T’u-shu-pien, a Chinese encyclopedia compiled by Chang-huang and published in 1613.  With the exception of many quaint islands lying scattered in the surrounding seas, this map has much in common with Jên-ch’ao’s, the central continent consisting of India, with the place-names from the Si-yü-ki, and of China under the Ming Dynasty. There is no denying the close relationship of the two. In the text of the T’u-shu-pien is found a quotation from the prefatory note written by an unknown priest who drew this map. According to it, the map was newly compiled on the basis three maps in the Fo-tsu-t’ung-ki, as well as many other materials. This statement, however, is unbelievable, since the map is full of errors. It is more probable that, utilizing diverse information it was modeled mainly on the afore-mentioned prototype of Jên-ch’ao’s map.          

The map, however, has a distinctive feature of its own, namely, the outline of the continent in the center and a number of islands lying scattered around it. The continent as a whole is wide in the north and pointed in the south, and still shows the traditional shape of Jambu-dvipa. But instead of the geometrical figure, its coastline is drawn more realistically and is indented. What attracts particular attention is that Fu-lin [the Byzantine Empire], west of the continent, is represented as a peninsula symmetrical with Korea in the east. Perhaps this indicates that people were no longer content with geographical representations in an unrealistic form, as the pilgrimage map of Holy India had been transformed into the map of the world, in which the intellectual interest requires a more objective and concrete image. And this growth of geographical consciousness led to a fresh demand for maps to comprise the whole of the known world.  Among the islands shown on this map were Japan, Ryuku, P’u-kan [Pagan in Burma], Ta-ts’in [the Roman Empire], Yeh-mo-t’i [Java], and Ho-ing [Kalinga in Java], the last two recorded by Fa-hsien and I-tsing in their accounts of travel to India.  But apart from them, most of the names given are fabulous and seem to have been taken from mystical, prophetic works such as the Hung-fan-wu-hsing-ch’uan written by Liu-hsiang in the period of the Han Dynasty. It may be because the Buddhist Holy Writings referred to some islands belonging to Jambu-dvipa that the compiler of this map arranged islands around the central continent so as to represent the various data obtained from sources other than the Si-yü-ki or the Fo-tsou-t’ong-ki.  

Professor Nakamura treats this map in detail in his paper and states that the T’u- chu-pien map is a hybrid between the Korean mappamundi of Tchien-ha-tchong-do type and the map of Jambu-dvipa. He rests this statement on the ground that a map closely resembling the T’u-shu-pien map is to be found among the maps of the Tchien-ha-tchong- do type that were widely circulated in Korea. But with regard to their representation of both the central continent and outlying islands, these two maps have very little in common and there seems to be no need to seek any particular relation between them. It is true that among the Korean mappaemundi may be found one almost exactly like the T’u-shuh-pien map. But this can be explained on the supposition that the Koreans, happening to find a map of similar form in this widely circulated encyclopedia, adopted it as a substitute for their world map.  Any close relationship, beyond this, can hardly be imagined between the Chinese Buddhist World Map and the Korean Tchien-ha-tchong-do.

But neither Jên-ch’ao’s map nor this T’u-shu-pien map could not go beyond Asia in their representation. Even so, it cannot be denied that a sense of a wide world is expressed in it. Certainly the map is full of inaccurate and even false information, but it gave the Chinese people a fresh conception of the world in contrast to their traditional view of their own country as the center of the world both culturally and geographically.

Chang-huang, the compiler of the T’u-shu-pien, who was rather critical of Buddhist teachings, dared to insert this map in his book saying that “although this map is not altogether believable, it shows that this earth of ours extends infinitely”.  But so long as it remains a Buddhist map, dogmatism stands in the way of reality. In the T’u-shu-pien map the eastern coastline of the continent is represented with approximate accuracy, yet Fu-lin is drawn on the western side, is a fictitious peninsula similar to Korea on the east, so as to keep the symmetrical figure of the continent of Jambu-dvipa. As for the contents of the map, more respect was paid to the old classical authority than to the new geographical findings, so that many quaint, legendary place-names were mentioned to advertise the bigoted belief that the world of Buddhist teaching included even the farthest corners. The problem now was to introduce heterogeneous information without conflict with the Buddhist teachings and to give the dogma some apparent plausibility. So it was of course quite inconceivable that the compiler of this map should utilize the newly acquired information for the purpose of altering the dogmatic notion of the world. Therein lies the character and limitation of the Buddhist maps.  The T’u-shu-pien map was rough and small, but as it appeared in a popular encyclopedia, it attracted wide attention, which in time came to affect even the maps produced in Japan.

Among the maps made by Japanese we find none which regard China as the center of the world. Only two world maps representing Chinese thought were published in Japan, the Daimin Kyuhen Bankoku Jinseki Rotei Zenzu [Complete Map of the Nine Large Regions of the Greater Ming, i.e., China, and all Countries of the World, with data on distances], a world map, date unknown; and the Choi Ichiran (a world map) published in 1835, and these are reprints of the Tenka Kyuhen Bankoku Jinseki Rotei Zenzu (a world map) published in China, 1663. There are not many of these Chinese world maps in Japan, but the remaining Daimin Kyuhen Bankoku Jinseki Rotei Zenzu, of various sizes, are common.  In this map illustrated on the following page, China is situated predominantly in the center, and the other countries are arranged round it, North and South America being drawn as separate small islands, and Europe and Africa being left uncompleted; this expresses contemporary Chinese ideas on world geography. Countries like Korea, Japan and Ryuku are only described in the text and are not represented on the map. The fact that such dogmatic world maps were widely favored in old Japan shows that some Japanese in the Age of National Isolation believed China to be the center of the world and all the other countries to be in subordination to her.  The sheet under discussion is a reprint by the book dealer Yahaku Umemura in Kyoto, which is tentatively dated 1700 by Professor Kurita.


*Ayusawa, S., “The types of world map made in Japan’s Age of National Isolation”, Imago Mundi  #10, pp. 123-128, Figures 2 and 3.

*Bagrow, L., History of Cartography, pp. 197-205.

*Cortazzi, H., Isles of Gold, Antique Maps of Japan, pp. 6-38, Plates 48/49.

*Harris, Hendon, The Asiatic Fathers of America.

*Hulbert, H.B., “An Ancient Map of the World”, American Geographic Society Bulletin, pp. 600-605.

*Lee, Dr. Chan, Old Maps of Korea, The Korean Library Science Research Institute, Seoul, Korea, 1977, 249 pp.

*Muroga, N. and Unno, K., “The Buddhist world map in Japan and its contact with European maps”.

*Nakamura, H., “Old Chinese World Maps Preserved by the Koreans”, Imago Mundi #4, pp. 3-22.

Nakamura, H., East Asia in Old Maps, p. 8, Figure 1.

*Needham, J., Science and Civilisation in China, vol. 3, pp. 566-568, Figure 242.

*Raisz, E., General Cartography.

*Virga, Vincent, Cartographia, Mapping Civilizations, pp. 60-64.

*Young-woo, Han, The Artistry of Early Korean Cartography, pp 122-129.

* illustrated

This manuscript Ch'onhado, or world map, is a very common feature of Korean hand atlases. It opens out from six folds and was perhaps copied from a Chinese source. The place names are derived from mythical places noted in Chinese classics and from known lands around China, which occupies the centre 'of the map. The date of the map is unknown.

Tchien-ha-tchong-do[mappamundi], British Museum, 42.5 x 50.5 cm


Map of Jambudvipa, 1709, 152 x 156cm, Nanba Collection, Kobe City Museum, Kobe, Japan

Daimin Kyuhen Bankoku Jinseki Rotei Zenzu, 1663, 123.9 X 123 cm

Nansenbushu Bankoku Shoka no Zu, 1709, 118 X 145 cm

Nansenbushu Bankoku Shoka no Zu, 1709, 118 X 145 cm

The map displays the various locations of China, Korea (朝鮮) and Japan (日本國) in the East, Siberia in the North (羅荒野), Nepal (天竺) and a vast India (印度) in the South, Persia in the West (波刺斯, modern 波斯), and Rome (Daqin, 大秦)

beyond the Western Sea (西海).

Ye-chi-do [Geographical Atlas] 37.47 x 29.21 cm

Nansenbushu, early 19th century, 127.5 x 152 cm. Kobe City Museum, Japan

Map of Jambu-Dvipa (154.5 x 138.5 cm)