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A highly decorative map of northeastern China and Korea, published in one of the last editions of Jan Jansson's Atlas Major.

The present map is very geographically advacned for its time and depicts the provinces of Hebei (Pecheli), Shanxi (Xansi), Shandong (Xantung), Henan (Honan), and Jangsu (Nanking). A legend identifies cities and towns of various sizes, forts, as well as mines for gold and iron. The massive Great Wall of China forms the northern border and the important salt flats are graphically illustrated along the coast. Beijing assumes the name Xuntien and Shanghai is named Sungkiang.

The title cartouche is o the very distinct auricular style favored in the contemporary Netherlands, and is flanked by Chinese Mandarins. The other cartouche, containing the scale of miles, is surrounded by putti. Three ships sail in the sea between China and Corea (Korea), which is noted as being a peninsula.

The map is based on the groundbreaking work of Martino Martini (1614-61), a legendary Italian Jesuit missionary and scholar. Martini arrived in Beijing in 1644 just as the Ming Dynasty fell to the Manchurian rebels (who formed the Qing Dynasty).

Following in the footsteps of his fellow Italian Jesuit Mateo Ricci, Martini sought out the very best maps and surveys of the Chinese Empire. He compiled a series of maps that were by far the most accurate depictions of China to date.

Martini's suite of 17 maps was first published by Joan Blaeu as the Novus Atlas Sinensis, which accounted for volume 10 of his Atlas Maior (Amsterdam 1655). The present edition of one of the most important maps was issued shortly thereafter by Blaeu's rival Jan Jansson. Martini's work was described by the great German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen, as:

"the most complete geographical description of China that we possess, and through which Martini has become the father of geographical learning on China."

Indeed, even Jean-Baptiste du Halde's Description…de la Chine (Paris, 1735), published 80 years later, did not fully supersede Martini's work.

The present map is scarce on the market and more frequently appears in the later revised edition, published by Valk & Schenk.

Jan Jansson Biography

Jan Janssonius (also known as Johann or Jan Jansson or Janszoon) (1588-1664) was a renowned geographer and publisher of the seventeenth century, when the Dutch dominated map publishing in Europe. Born in Arnhem, Jan was first exposed to the trade via his father, who was also a bookseller and publisher. In 1612, Jan married the daughter of Jodocus Hondius, who was also a prominent mapmaker and seller. Jonssonius’ first maps date from 1616.

In the 1630s, Janssonius worked with his brother-in-law, Henricus Hondius. Their most successful venture was to reissue the Mercator-Hondius atlas. Jodocus Hondius had acquired the plates to the Mercator atlas, first published in 1595, and added 36 additional maps. After Hondius died in 1612, Henricus took over publication; Janssonius joined the venture in 1633. Eventually, the atlas was renamed the Atlas Novus and then the Atlas Major, by which time it had expanded to eleven volumes. Janssonius is also well known for his volume of English county maps, published in 1646.

Janssonius died in Amsterdam in 1664. His son-in-law, Johannes van Waesbergen, took over his business. Eventually, many of Janssonius’ plates were sold to Gerard Valck and Pieter Schenk, who added their names and continued to reissue the maps.