Scarce early and unusual plan of the Chinese city of Quinzay [Hangchow], based upon the magnificent account given by Venetian Marco Polo in the late 12th Century of the great city of Quinzay.
Quinzay is derived from the Chinese name King-sze meaning "Capital" or great city. The actual name for Quinzay in this period was Lin-ngan, now Hangchow on China's East coast which was in the 12th Century the capital of the ruling Sung Dynasty. Marco Polo recounted perhaps with his typical tendency for over-exaggeration its 12000 bridges, its massive network of canals, its paved roads and its large Lake [Si-hu or Western Lake] some 30 miles in diameter with island pavilions and palaces upon it. Jansson reproduces this information with fanciful embellishment.
Mathaus Merian (1593-1650) was the father of engraver Matthäus the Younger, and of the painter, engraver, and naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian. He was born in Basel, Switzerland and trained in engraving in Zurich. After a time in Nancy, Paris and Strasbourg, he settled in Frankfurt. While there, he worked for Johann Theodor de Bry, the publisher and son of the travel writer. In 1617, he married Maria Magdalena de Bry, Johann Theodor’s daughter. In 1623, Merian took over the de Bry publishing house upon the death of his father-in-law. Merian’s best known works are detailed town views which, due to their accuracy and artistry, form a valuable record of European urban life in the first half of the sixteenth century