Kennen Sie schon … die Leidener „Digitised Chinese mega-maps“?

Die UB Lei­den hat im Som­mer 2022 ver­meldet:

Three enor­mous maps of Chi­na, cre­at­ed dur­ing the reign of three dif­fer­ent emper­ors of the Qing dynasty, have now been made avail­able in open access and are down­load­able via Lei­den Uni­ver­si­ty Libraries’ (UBL) Dig­i­tal Col­lec­tions. The rich maps are an ear­ly exam­ple of aca­d­e­m­ic col­lab­o­ra­tion between the Impe­r­i­al Chi­nese court and West­ern mis­sion­ar­ies and are con­sid­ered a cor­ner­stone of Chi­nese car­tog­ra­phy.


The three maps, the largest about 8m high and 10m wide, show Chi­na as it was dur­ing the prime of the Qing dynasty. They were com­mis­sioned by three emper­ors: Kangxi (1721), Yongzheng (1728) and Qian­long (1766), respec­tive­ly. Land sur­veys for the pro­duc­tion of all maps were per­formed by Jesuit mis­sion­ar­ies, first dur­ing the reign of the Kangxi Emper­or, who had short­ly before decid­ed to allow Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ar­ies into Chi­na. This aca­d­e­m­ic col­lab­o­ra­tion, includ­ing on the posi­tion of mis­sion­ar­ies at the Impe­r­i­al Court and events dur­ing their trav­els through­out the Empire, is still a source of much sino­log­i­cal research.

It is quite rare for the full set of maps to be present in a sin­gle insti­tu­tion, although frag­ments can be found in library col­lec­tions around the world. The rea­son for this was the impor­tance of the maps for Euro­pean car­tog­ra­phers. Well into the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, these Chi­nese maps were used as a blue­print for maps of Chi­na in Europe. Sev­er­al imper­fec­tions can also be found on these Euro­pean copies. Con­scious adjust­ments made to cor­re­late the map with clas­si­cal Chi­nese sto­ries and folk­lore were also adopt­ed.

Education and research

The ini­tia­tive for digi­tis­ing the maps came from the Manchu Foun­da­tion and founder and project man­ag­er Fres­co Sam-Sin, an organ­i­sa­tion aim­ing to bring knowl­edge about the Manchu lan­guage and peo­ple to a wider audi­ence. The foun­da­tion used the digi­tised maps in the Lei­den Dig­i­tal Col­lec­tions by means of IIIF tech­nol­o­gy for var­i­ous projects, such as the QingMaps web­site and for an inter­ac­tive expe­ri­ence in an exhi­bi­tion at the Dutch Nation­al Muse­um of Eth­nol­o­gy. As a result of a five-year project, the maps are now almost com­plete­ly indexed. The project, digi­ti­sa­tion and cat­a­logu­ing, was fund­ed by the UBL, the Lei­den Uni­ver­si­ty Fac­ul­ty of Human­i­ties, the Manchu Foun­da­tion and Uni­ver­si­ty of Macau, where Mario Cams has been con­duct­ing research on these spe­cif­ic maps for years.

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