China at the Center: Ricci and Verbiest World Maps
In the early 17th century, Jesuit priests, eager to spread Christianity, made their way to China; two of these, Matteo Ricci and Ferdinand Verbiest, became noted scientists and philosophers in the Chinese imperial court. They brought their knowledge of European cartography and drew important maps that impressed their hosts and influenced Chinese mapmaking for years to come. This slim volume concentrates on the history of these two priests and how and why they created the two maps known as the Ricci and Verbiest World Maps. The maps are reproduced in sepia print, and the accompanying essays explain some of the detail, noting important aspects such as the inclusion of scale, positioning of the continents, mythical creatures or fantastic facts, and so on.
The maps are very detailed, but small; the text on the maps, written for a Chinese audience, is also written in Mandarin, so English-speaking readers may be disappointed that there is not more explanation of the various writings included on the maps. However, this is an interesting and accessible introduction to this little-known aspect of cartography, and will encourage interested readers to seek additional sources to truly study these documents and enjoy their message and history.
M. Antoni, J. Ucerler, Theodore N. Foss, Mark Stephen Mir, Natasha Reichle, Editor
Asian Art Museum