Decorative map, showing the region from Korea and Tartary to Northern China, which was issued in Zatta's Atlante Novissimo, a monumental 4 volume work and one of the last great decorative atlases.
Antonio Zatta's map of Chinese Tartary is a detailed and richly ornamented map, depicting a vast region extending from Korea to Northern China, including parts of what is now Mongolia, Siberia, and Manchuria, collectively referred to as Tartary. The map prominently features sweeping mountain ranges, expansive rivers, along with the region's cities and towns.
Title: "Antonio Zatta's Map of Chinese Tartary: An 18th Century Cartographic Masterpiece and its Historical Context"
Antonio Zatta's map of Chinese Tartary, published in Venice in the late 18th century, is a piece of work that combines the precision of cartography with the artistry of the period's aesthetics. Covering a vast region from Korea to Northern China, it provides an invaluable lens through which to view the geographical understanding of the time.
Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, the map brings to life the vast region of Tartary - a broad term used to describe the territories spanning from Central Asia to Northern China, including present-day Mongolia, Siberia, and Manchuria. It presents the physical geography of these territories, highlighting the network of rivers, the mountainous regions, and the extensive variety of cities and towns.
Beyond being a purely geographical tool, Zatta's map is an embodiment of the 18th-century European perspective of this region. It was created during a period when the East, especially China, was viewed with curiosity and intrigue by European society, reflected in its intricate detail and the painstaking efforts made to accurately represent the vast, unfamiliar territories.
In the second half of the 18th century, the area known as Chinese Tartary was subject to significant change and upheaval. China, as an empire, was experiencing internal tensions that would lay the groundwork for future conflicts. Its governance was increasingly being challenged, leading to power shifts and changes in administrative control over the territories of Tartary.
On the other hand, the greater region of Tartary was also experiencing its dynamics. The Mongolian regions were marked by the decline of the Dzungar Khanate, largely due to a combination of internal strife and Qing dynasty campaigns. This resulted in the effective control of the Qing dynasty over vast areas of what was previously known as Chinese Tartary.
Simultaneously, Russian interest in Siberia and parts of Northeast Asia was on the rise. In the second half of the 18th century, the Russian Empire's expansionist policies saw them exerting increased influence over parts of northern Tartary, setting the stage for more comprehensive control in the following century.
As such, Zatta's map, while serving as a geographical guide, also provides a snapshot of the political landscape before the major transformations of the 19th century. It stands as a historical document capturing a unique moment in time and a region on the brink of significant change.
Antonio Zatta (fl. 1757-1797) was a prominent Italian editor, cartographer, and publisher. Little is known about his life beyond his many surviving published works. It is possible that he was born as early as 1722 and lived as late as 1804. He lived in Venice and his work flourished between 1757 and 1797. He is best known for his atlas, Atlante Novissimo (1779-1785), and for his prolific output of prints and books that were both precisely made and aesthetically pleasing. Zatta clearly had a large network from which to draw information; this is how he was able to publish the first glimpse of the islands visited by Captain Cook in the Atlante Novissimo. Zatta also published books of plays and architecture.