Sunday, December 23, 2012

H-Asia: Library of Congress Map Website

December 22, 2012

Online maps of Asia in the Library of Congress
From: Richard J. Smith, Rice University

Happy Holidays!!

My "gift" for the period is to call attention to a vast, rich and surprisingly under-utilized scholarly resource: the online Map Collection(s) of the Library of Congress--the contents of which are all
fully downloadable. The basic LOC website is

and the specific search URL is

To find a general item, enter, say, “China Maps,” indicating a maximum of 400 bibliographic records. This will yield 336 entries, including maps of all kinds—some large, some small; some produced by Chinese, Japanese or Korean mapmakers, some produced by Western cartographers; some modern, some ancient (the earliest are dated 1136); some rough, some strikingly beautiful. There is literally something for everyone, including military historians, who, on the whole, have not made particularly good use of the enormously fruitful visual and textual possibilities provided by manuscript maps produced in any given period. Unfortunately, “military” is not a particularly productive search term--at least not for my area of the world (East Asia). “Garrison” is a bit better; see, for example, the strikingly beautiful map titled "Zhaotong fu yu tu." Some maps are mislabeled by the LOC, and so it takes a bit of trial and error to search for all the cartographic possibilities, but they are astonishing in their number and especially in their variety, from "world maps" to relatively small outposts. For a specific example of how one might search, again focusing on China, go to “Search All Map Collections,” enter a term like “China Coast,” then “match any words” and keep the default at 100 bibliographic records. This will eventually yield “Eastern Hemisphere,” designated “Map 11 of 100.” You can then click on on any of the several maps in the collection (all marked “880-01 Hai jiang yang jie xing shi quan tu”), and go to the bottom of the page where it says “Download JPEG2000 image.” Click on this link. The download may take a minute or so, since it will be a rather large file, but then you’ll have a magnificent image on your desktop, which you can roam around in and magnify to a remarkable extent. From this action you can isolate and “grab” the specific image you want. It’s a helluva lot of fun to poke around in this way, and I can guarantee that you will find some amazing stuff. Below, the titles of a few maps that I have downloaded recently, as a small indication of the possibilities for scholars of East Asia (these titles can all be entered directly into “Search All Map Collections,” sans the dates in brackets, which I have added):

Aihun Luosha Taiwan Nei Menggu tu [1689-1722]
Chōsen hachidō no zu [1785]
Chungguk sipsamsong to [c 1800]
Da Qing fen sheng yu tu [1754-82]
Da Qing nian san sheng yu di quan tu; fu Chaoxian [1885-1894]
Da Qing tong shu zhi gong wan guo jing wei di qiu shi [1794]
Da Qing wan nian yi tong tian xia quan tu [1811]
Da Qing yi tong yu di quan tu [1864]
Dian Yue Yuenan lian jie yu tu [1864]
Haedong chido 19th century Haejwa chondo [1822]
Hamgyong-pukto chondo [19th century]
Huang chao yi tong yu di quan tu [1832]
Huang chao yi tong yu di quan tu [1842]
Huang chao zhi sheng yu di quan tu [1896]
Huang yu quan lan fen sheng tu [1693-1722]
Jiang hai quan tu [1800-1854]
Jing ban tian wen quan tu [c 1800]
Jing cheng ge guo zan fen jie zhi quan tu [1900]
Jing cheng quan tu [1870]
Ming shi san ling tu [1875-1908]
Nan yang fen tu [1864]
Qi sheng yan hai quan tu [1881]
San cai yi guan tu [1722]
Sangoku tsūran yochi rotei zenzu [1785-1793]
Sankai yochi zenzu [1785]
Shandong Zhili Shengjing hai jiang tu [c 1700]
Wan li hai fang tu shuo [1725]
Wan li hai fang tu shuo [c. 1700]
Xizang quan tu [1862]
Yihe yuan [post-1888]
Yojido [19th century]
Zhaotong Yunnan [1730 and 1820]

P.S. Another useful but far more limited map website for China specialists is: .

For a valuable recent print source, see Zhonghua yu tu zhi bian zhi ji shu
zi zhan shi xiang mu zu, ed., Zhong hua yu tu zhi (A Collection of
[Ancient] Chinese Maps) Beijing: Zhong guo di tu chu ban she, 2011

Richard J. Smith
Rice University
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.

No comments: