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The First Large Format Map of Korea Published in Europe

Fine example of J.B.B. D'Anville's landmark map of Korea, published his Nouvel Atlas de la Chine, de la Tartarie Chinoise, et du Thibet: Contenant Les Cartes generale & particulieres de ces Pays, ainsi que la Carte du Royaume de Coree in Paris in 1737.

The D'Anville map of Korea is a landmark in the mapping of Korea and the first western map to provide a reasonable accurate mapping of the Peninsula. In the early 18th Century, the Jesuit Missionaries were finally able to gain access to the indigenous cartography of Korea in an indirect fashion. Since the Jesuits were not actually allowed into Korea, the Tartar Lord (Mukedeng, a troubleshooter and trusted assistant for the Kangxi emperor) was accompanied by a Chinese surveyor trained by the Jesuits. While closely monitored, they were allowed to produce a map which was exported to the Jesuits through the Tartar Lord.

The map was produced by Jean-Baptiste Regis and edited by D'Anville. Its first appearance was in Du Halde's monumental work on China, published in Paris in 1735. Du Halde was a French Jesuit and geographer of Paris. The map remained the most important and influential mapping of Korea for the next century or more.

Mapping Korea

In Korea, administrative geography has a long tradition, largely following the Chinese model. Both countries had a central government which directly administrated the nation down to a local level. Since the local government tinkered with the system constantly due to various fiscal and political systems, there were frequently changes to record. The earliest surviving treatise on Korean geography is found in the Samguk Sagi (history of the Three Kingdoms), compiled in 1145 by Kim Pusik.

The Choson Dynasty made many changes in local administration after it came to power in 1392, when King Sejong ordered a survey of the nation's provinces and districts. Of key importance for cartography were the precise data on distances from district to district, collected in a way that a mapmaker could have the data needed with a high degree of redundancy and verification. The Sungnam comprehensive geographical reference work was published and became known in a final version in 1531.

Three important developments helped transform Korean culture and nurtured new trends in cartography. The first was the bitter anti-Manchu hostility which developed after two invasions and the overthrow of the Ming dynasty by the Manchus. Indirectly this encouraged a more independent Korean self-consciousness and a burst of cultural creativity. Second, new trends in scholarship encouraged a fresh interest in science and pragmatic research. Geography was one of the disciplines which became fashionable among many scholars. Finally, early Sino-Jesuit cartography continued to find its way to Korea.

In 1713, a Manchu envoy arrived and sent a Jesuit-trained Chinese surveyor to the center of Seoul. The rise of the Manchus resulted at first in favorable development for Korea. Around 1600, the Jurchens (who only started to call themselves Manchus in 1636) abandoned the Peaktu-Tumen region to join the campaigns of their leader Nurhaci. To meet the growing Russian expansion the Manchus reorganized the defenses of the Manchurian homelands in the 1650s and 1660s. A Manchu survey inspected the region of the Changbaishan, the Chinese name for Paektusan, in the summer of 1677. In 1679 the Manchus had made or acquired maps of the whole of the Korean side of the border from one side of the peninsula to the other and they visited a Korean commander in the north and requested information on "present installations, maps and 'floating iron' [compass] bearings in the area of Changbaishan." They allowed him to copy their own map. The Qing prompted for stricter controls on Korean frontier dwellers. In 1699 Korean envoys were ordered by the Manchu authorities to execute a map of Korea's eight provinces with route and distance data.

The Manchu's emperor Kangxi made a project to map his empire and it took on new energy when the Jesuits joined the effort in 1709. Before the year was over they had mapped Manchuria and the borders of Korea. By 1716, they and their Chinese and Manchu assistants had mapped the entire Chinese empire plus Tibet and Korea. These maps were printed in Chinese versions in 1717 and 1719, and in a definitive version in 1721.

Du Halde / D'Anville Map

An explanation of the Jesuit map of Korea by father Jean-Baptiste Regis (1664-1738), who with Fathers Pierre Jartoux (1669-1720) and Erhernberg Xavier Fridelli (1643-1743) had done the Manchurian and Korean regions in 1709 and 1710, is given by Jean Baptiste du Halde's (1674 - 1743). Since the Jesuits were not allowed in Korea the "Tartar lord" (Mukedeng a troubleshooter and trusted assistant for the Kangxi emperor) was accompanied by the previously mentioned Chinese surveyor who was trained by the Jesuits. While in Korea, the team was under constant surveillance, but the Tartar lord was given a map, which was kept at the royal palace. Regis produced a map that came out in the Kangxi atlas, which was in turn used and edited by D'Anville and published in 1735 by du Halde and in 1737 by D'Anville.

A fine example of the single most important map of Korea published in Europe in the 18th Century.

Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville Biography

Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville (1697-1782) was one of the foremost French geographers of the eighteenth century. He carried out rigorous research in order to create his maps, which greatly developed the technical proficiency of mapmaking during his lifetime. His style was also simpler and less ornate than that of many of his predecessors. It was widely adopted by his contemporaries and successors.

The son of a tailor, d’Anville showed cartographic prowess from a young age; his first map, of Ancient Greece, was published when he was only fifteen years old. By twenty-two, he was appointed as one of the King’s géographes ordinaire de roi. He tutored the young Louis XV while in the service to the Crown. However, royal appointment did not pay all the bills, so d’Anville also did some work for the Portuguese Crown from 1724. For example, he helped to fill out Dom João V’s library with geographical works and made maps showing Portugal’s African colonies.  

D’Anville disapproved of merely copying features from other maps, preferring instead to return to the texts upon which those maps were based to make his own depictions. This led him to embrace blank spaces for unknown areas and to reject names which were not supported by other sources. He also amassed a large personal map library and created a network of sources that included Jesuits in China and savants in Brazil. D’Anville’s historical approach to cartography resulted in magnificently detailed, yet modern and academic, maps. For example, his 1743 map of Italy improved upon all previous maps and included a memoir laying out his research and innovations. The geographer also specialized in ancient historical geography.

In 1773, d’Anville was named premier géographe de roi. In 1780, he ceded his considerable library to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be used for as a reference library for diplomats. D’Anville is best known for several maps, including his map of China, first published in 1735, and then included with Du Halde’s history of that country (the Hague, 1737). His map of Africa (1749) was used well into the nineteenth century.