Mapping the Middle Kingdom
Chinese Scholars, Jesuit Priests, Anti-Opium Commissioner Lin Zexu, and the Land of People with Three Heads
Did you know that even though maps have been used in China for over 2000 years and that the Chinese had invented woodblock printing as long ago as the Tang dynasty, until the twentieth century the majority of Chinese maps were still produced with a brush? Or that in 1688 the Chinese Emperor Kangxi hired a group of French Jesuit priests who started a 30-year project to map all of the Middle Kingdom, the maps from which were still being used by foreign explorers in the 1920s and 30s to navigate around China? Or, indeed, that the famous anti-opium commissioner Lin Zexu, sent by the emperor to Guangzhou in 1839 to suppress the opium trade, risked his life by collecting and translating Western geographical works on China and publishing his own book revolutionizing the way the Chinese viewed themselves and their place in the world?
Told through numerous beautiful antique maps, many of which will be on display, “Mapping the Middle Kingdom” recounts tales of how both Chinese and foreign maps of China developed over time, how the Chinese viewed the world and vice versa, where the Land of People with Three Heads was located, which maps are worth collecting, and why the British Empire was nearly always painted in pink! Come for an evening at the Bookworm to listen to these along with many other fascinating stories related to maps in China....