The Complete World Map


The author of this work is unknown. The name of the person who copied the manuscript appears at the end of the work, signed Zhou Yousheng. Some have attributed authorship to Ai Nanying (1583–1646), a late-Ming essayist and literary critic, who wrote a work entitled Yu Gong tu zhu (Explanatory text to the map of the Yu Gong), the central concept of which was the traditional Chinese view on geography. According to that view, Yu of the Xia dynasty (circa 2070–circa 1600 BC) divided the Middle Kingdom into nine provinces in five zones. At the end of Ai’s work was an appendix with the same title as this work, and records of the locations of the prefectures and counties of the Ming dynasty. The identical title notwithstanding, this work is more likely a supplement to the important atlas Guang yu tu (Enlarged terrestrial atlas), written by the famous Ming-dynasty geographer and literary writer Luo Hongxian (1504–64), who acquired and used a work of the Yuan-dynasty geographer Zhu Siben (1273–1333). This copy has nearly 150 leaves. Its contents can be divided in nine groups: 12 essays on geographical maps, 12 maps of the nine borders, a map of the Yellow River, and maps of sea transport, canal transport, Korea, Annam, tribes of the sea, and tribes of the deserts. The maps are executed in a fine and precise manner with explanatory texts following the maps. Taking the work as a whole, one can conclude that the contents and language overlap with those in Guang yu tu. The maps and texts are somewhat different, but the structure and contents definitely were influenced by the earlier work, causing some bibliographers view this as a later edition of Guang yu tu. This copy has corrections in red ink.

Last updated: March 13, 2014