About A Complete Map of the Ten Thousand Countries of the World, 1602
Made by the Italian Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci with the help of Chinese collaborators, including Li Zhizao, this map is one of six complete copies in existence, and it is the oldest surviving Chinese map to show the Americas. The text of this densely annotated map supplies place names and a depth of information about the geography of the world and the customs of peoples in it. The map also contains what has been called a “fringe of fantasy,” imaginative descriptions of peoples at the peripheries of the world as it was known to China and Europe in the seventeenth century.
This map is featured in the exhibition, China at the Center: Rare Ricci and Verbiest World Maps, on view at the Asian Art Museum from March 4–May 8, 2016. View another map in this exhibition by Ferdinand Verbiest (Flemish, 1623–1688).
Translations by A.C. Baecker. Cartouche synopsis by Mark Mir. Commentary on animals by Natasha Reichle. Additional assistance by Ellen Yeung. Produced by the Asian Art Museum in collaboration with Earprint Productions. Edited by Clare Jacobson. Project managed by Lorraine Goodwin.
A Complete Map of the Ten Thousand Countries of the World, 1602, by Matteo Ricci, is owned by the James Ford Bell Trust, held at the James Ford Bell Library, University of Minnesota, and was loaned to the Asian Art Museum for the 2016 exhibition China at the Center: Rare Ricci and Verbiest World Maps. The exhibition was organized by the Asian Art Museum in partnership with the University of San Francisco. This interactive was made possible with generous support from the James Ford Bell Trust.
A Note About This Map
The passages on this map combine fact with fantasy. In descriptions of the peoples of the world, the text reflects the seventeenth-century viewpoints and prejudices of its makers.