Map of the Lands Where the Sage-Emperor Yu Left His Traces


This rubbing is of a Chinese map engraved in stone in the seventh year of the Fouchang era of the Qi state (1136). The stele survives in the Forest of Steles in Xi’an. The map is oriented with north at the top and south at the bottom. Over 500 place names are plotted on the map, which represents a panorama of China in Song times. The engraving of the hydraulic systems is especially detailed, with nearly 80 rivers named. The courses of the Yellow and Yangtze rivers are very close to the way they appear on present-day maps. The contour of the seacoast is also quite accurate. Among surviving maps engraved in stone, this map is the oldest and the earliest to have grid marks indicating scale. It is a prime example of the level of mapmaking in the Song dynasty, and occupies an important place in the history of Chinese cartography. In his Science and Civilisation in China, the British scholar Joseph Needham praised this work as the most outstanding map of its time.

Last updated: January 3, 2018