Historical Geography Research ›› 2021, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (1): 117-140.

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Reconstruct Martino Martini’s Process of Reckoning the Coordinates in the Provincial Maps of the Working Edition of Guang Yu Ji

Lin Hong   

  1. Department of History, School of Humanities, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai 200234, China
  • Received:2020-08-10 Online:2021-02-20 Published:2021-02-20


Novus Atlas Sinensis, the first printed provincial atlas of China in Europe, was published in Amsterdam in 1655. The Atlas had a great influence on European knowledge of China at that time. The maps and geographical descriptions were drawn and compiled by the Jesuit Martino Martini, mainly based on Guang Yu Ji, a Chinese geographical book published in late Ming Dynasty, which Martini brought back to Europe. By close reading the notes appended by Martini himself onto the “working edition” of Guang Yu Ji now held in the Vatican Apostolic Library, with the help of logical reasoning, the author tries to reconstruct the method and process through which he reckoned the coordinates in the provincial maps of the working edition. The author finds out that Martini completed reckoned the coordinates of more than 1 700 settlements based on only few measured or pre-set values of control points. This was the pivotal step of Martini’s map-making technique. Although the method was inaccurate in modern eyes, by applying it in transforming Chinese provincial maps and fit them into Western standards, Martini successfully produced an atlas which met the requirments of the European mapping industry.

Key words: Martino Martini, Novus Atlas Sinensis, “working edition”, of Guang Yu Ji, coordinates, reconstruction

CLC Number: 

  • K928