Chinese World Map, 1644

This extract looks more like a map of China than a map of the world. The mapmaker has placed an enormous China firmly in the centre of the world. In fact, the Chinese word for China, Zhongguo, means ‘middle country’.

China’s towns and cities, its river systems, and the Great Wall are all shown on the map. The writing around the edge of the map provides information on Chinese towns and cities. Other countries, some real, others imaginary, are pushed towards the margins and reduced in size: Cuba is at the top right; the mythical ‘Country of Women’ (as described by Marco Polo) is at the bottom right, near to what is possibly Brazil; Europe is to the top left, and Africa centre left.

Taken from: Map of China and neighbouring countries
Date: 1645
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: Maps *60875.(11)