18th Century Rare Antique Ch'onha Chido Korean Atlas w/ 13 Maps - Chŏnhado 天下圖

Cartographer :Korean Cartography

  • Title : Ch'onha chido (Korean Atlas of the World) 天下圖
  • Date : Late 18th Century
  • Size: 4to - 30.5cm x 19cm (12in x 7 1/2in)
  • Condition: (A+) Fine Condition
  • Ref:  50402

We are incredibly excited to be able to offer this rare original antique wood-block engraved late 18th century Ch'onha chido (Atlas of the World) a traditional Korean Atlas, containing 13 maps (World, China, Korea, Japan, Ruyku Islands & 8 provincial maps)
Mostly, such an atlas contains either hand drawn manuscript maps or rarer woodcut engraved maps, such as this atlas (woodcut maps are rarer due to the lack and expense of printing presses and the relatively cheap cost of local scribes)
These atlases were issued by the Korean authorities in the 18th and 19th centuries and possibly earlier to help train each new generation of administrative officers to govern the provinces of their country, and a knowledge of the geography of their own and neighbouring countries was part of that training. They are now all considered to be extremely rare; with a few examples in private hands, the Library of Congress Asian map collections and in some national map collections around the world.

The maps of a Ch onha chido are mainly based on maps made during the Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The 13 maps, listed below, are engraved onto fine but strong Mulberry paper with a deep heavy impression in the original black & white. The atlas measures 30.5cm x 19cm (12in x 7 1/2in) with each map page measuring 33.5cm x 30.5cm (13 1/2in x 12in).
The maps are:
1. World Map ( Chŏnhado ) 天下圖
2. China (Chunggukto) 中國圖
3. Korea (Ilbonguk) 日本國
4. Ryukyu (Yuguguk) 琉球國
5. Japan (Tongguk palto taechongdo) 東國八道大總圖
6. Kyŏnggi-do - Chungchŏng-do 京畿道
7. Chŏlla-do 忠清道
8. Kyŏngsang-do 全羅道
9. Hwanghae-do 慶尚道
10. Pyŏngan-do 黄海道
11. Kangwŏn-do 平安道
12. Hamgyŏng-do. 江原道
13. 咸鏡道.

General Definitions:
Paper thickness and quality: - Light and stable
Paper color : - off white
Age of map color: -
Colors used: -
General color appearance: -
Paper size: - 33.5cm x 30.5cm (13 1/2in x 12in). each
Plate size: - 33.5cm x 30.5cm (13 1/2in x 12in). each
Margins: - Min 1/2in (12mm)

Margins: - Light soiling
Plate area: - Light soiling
Verso: - Light soiling

The design of 12 of the 13 maps, from a western perspective, are easily recognisable but when we come to the circular World Map or The Cheonhado (Map of the world beneath the heavens) the design is more reminscent of much early middle aged world map, such as the Hereford Mappa Mundi that centered on the Holy Land. This World map centers on China and Korea, with Asia and Africa included to the south and west and the rest of the world included as a separate, encompassing ring.
This form of circular world map was developed in Korea during the 17th century. It is based on the Korean term for map, jido, translated roughly as land picture.
The Cheonhado maps were made in response to the encounter with the geographical knowledge of the West, but based in content on traditional Asian sources and Asian in style. The structure of the maps consists of an internal continent with historical place names, an internal sea with place names connected to descriptions of Taoist immortality, an external continent, and an external sea. Surprisingly, the maps did not reflect the highest levels of geographic knowledge available to Koreans, but this is not likely to be intentional. Some of this was due to the nautical distance between Korea and other East Asian locales affected the mapmakers perceptions of Asia. Similarly, European mapmakers of the day often treated Korea as an island.
Some scholars have attributed the development of Korean circular world maps to Western influence, such as the maps of Matteo Ricci (Kunyu Wanguo Quantu) or the maps of Giulio Aleni (Wanguo Quantu). In this case, the central landmass can be viewed as a combination of Asia, Africa, and Europe, and the external ring continent as North America & South America and the great Southern Lands.
Such maps were produced in Korea only, and have not been found in China or Japan.
The Cheonhado remained popular in Korea until the late 19th century.

Korean Cartography
Koreans have been making and using maps for more than fifteen centuries. Since most of their country's borders were naturally determined by the sea, they had a general concept of Korea's outline at an early date, and their deep consciousness of samch olli kangsan (three thousand Ii of mountains and rivers) gave their mapmakers a general idea of what went within that outline. Underlying these imprints on the national psyche were a strong tradition of administrative and cultural geography and a nationally conceived theory of geomantic analysis. All these factors contributed to the production of interesting maps. While naturally emphasizing their own country, Korean cartographers also showed an enduring interest in the shape of their neighbours' lands and territories; and looking beyond these to the greater world, they produced several carefully studied world maps as well as more traditional cosmographies. Just as Korea's culture freely absorbed many of the features and institutions of Chinese civilization yet retained a strong individual Korean identity, so too Korea's mapmakers, applying general cartographic norms developed in China, adapted these norms to their own circumstances and created maps of both utility and beauty. That much said, by East Asian standards the 'antiquity of Korea's surviving cartographic artifacts is not great. As in other countries, time, war, and carelessness have taken a heavy toll on all written artifacts, but especially on paintings and maps. The oldest Korean map to survive today is an important world map dated 1402 (known in three copies, of which the earliest was made around 1470). But even that date is early in terms of the surviving cartographic corpus taken as a whole, which dates mostly from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. For maps before 1402, we must rely on written records and reasonable inferences that can be based on the general trends of East Asian and Korean cultural history. An inquiry along these lines will show that whereas mapmaking before 1402 emphasized the nation and its local districts, a twelfth-century scholar had already produced a map of the world along Buddhist lines, and a fourteenth-century man had compiled a historical map of Korea and China. The description of the latter is conceived in terms very similar to those evident in the 1402 world map and provides an appropriate link from the unseen to the visible corpus. It seems convenient to organize Korean maps into four broad categories, proceeding from the more general world and national maps to the more particular regional and local ones. Although this scheme will involve a few chronological discontinuities, the existing corpus is such that most of the more interesting world maps appear relatively early, whereas the great majority of local and topical maps come from the later centuries.The category of world maps is very heterogeneous, including a few genuine maps of the world, a great variety of East Asian regional maps, and the numerous prints and copies of the quasi-cosmographical ch'onhado. Korean scholars sometimes use this term, which can be broadly translated "world maps," for this whole group, but in this chapter it will be reserved for the popular and generally recent maps, often with the terms ch'onha or ch'onhado in their titles, that present the Sinocentric world-China, Korea, and their proximate East Asian neighbours-surrounded by peripheral rings of exotic or mythical lands and peoples. The origin and development of the ch'onhado presents many problems on which scholars still have their differences, but there is no disagreement on the great vogue these maps enjoyed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They easily account for most of the world map category. Although in terms of the development of maps they are late and perhaps better explained in terms of folklore than of science, still they had a real place in Korean life and have their own absorbing story to tell. The cartographically more significant world maps and East Asian regional maps, though less numerous, have infinitely more variety than the ch'onhado, and they generally come earlier. The phrase samch'olli kangsan has long been a pan of Korean folklore. The significance of "mountains and streams" in Korean national geomantic theory is evident as early as the tenth century.
Then there were maps of Korea alone, understandably a large and varied category. The oldest cartographic depiction of the country to survive is the representation of Korea on the 1402 world map, although we have a number of written references to earlier national maps, including one interesting description of a map of Korea said to have been made in the twelfth century or earlier. During the fifteenth century there was an abundance of geographic research, but unfortunately none of the many maps known to have been produced in that period seem to have survived to modern times. However, a map completed in 1463 by Chong Ch'ok had great influence and is believed to have been taken as a model by later mapmakers, so that we have a reasonably good idea of how the peninsular outline was conceived as well as of the cartographic detail involving rivers and mountains, placenames, and other features. During the early eighteenth century the mapmaker Chong Sanggi and his family achieved a genuine revolution in cartographic technique, producing a dramatically improved understanding of the nation's borders, both the long coastlines and the much harder to grasp northern frontier. These techniques were refined and perfected by the nineteenth-century master Kim Chongho, who was both a mapmaker and a publisher and popularizer. Although he was familiar with Western mapmaking techniques and made use of geodetic coordinates in his work, the visual appearance of his late traditional maps stayed completely within the evolutionary lines of native cartographic practice. Korea's shift to the styles and methods of Western cartography occurred only toward the end of the nineteenth century, as the nation struggled to come to terms with a new Western world order led (as far as Korea was concerned) by Japan, which was much more threatening than reassuring. Provincial maps were popularized in the late fifteenth century as part of an important compendium of administrative geography, and they achieved high levels of quality in the eighteenth century, when Chong Sanggi made maps of all the provinces on a unified scale, so that they could be used as separate maps or combined to make a single national map. Reforms introduced in 1791 promoted extensive local surveys and were a key impetus both to the mapping of counties and towns and to the compilation of local histories. But whereas national and provincial maps came to achieve a certain level of standardization and cartographic professionalism, town and county maps were made by a great variety of local hands, some very skilled, others quite crude. As we shall see, the background of these country mapmakers was more in painting and drawing than in cartography, and the results are evident in hundreds of local maps that might also pass for bird's-eye-view landscapes, a style that is Cartography in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam also well documented for China. The last of the four major categories of Korean maps is the so-called defense map, or kwanbangdo in the traditional term. These range from long scrolls representing frontiers thousands of Ii long and reaching far beyond Korea to maps of local mountain fortresses. The variety is very great. Many were mounted on screens that probably stood in the offices of defense officials in Seoul or provincial governors; others were in more portable scrolls or folios that were an essential part of the equipment of frontier commanders and military officers. One very interesting variety of defense map was oriented to coastal defense and navigation. The evident purpose of maps in this category was principally to clarify terrain and communications from a military perspective, while cartographic scale, so important in the later national and provincial maps, is decidedly a lower priority. The considerable skill and painterly talent evident in these maps shows that they were mostly made and used in the central government or high military commands, where the resources for maintaining staff artists and mapmakers were readily available. (Cartography in Korea - Gari Ledyard)