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The world maps of Blaeu and Verbiest

blaeu_china.jpg The maritime museum in Amsterdam has two world maps in its collection, made by cartographers that are far apart and yet have everything to do with each other. The map from 1674 by Ferdinand Verbiest, court astronomer to the Chinese 康熙 (Kangxi) emperor is based on the same information as Blaeu's world map from 1648. The Blaeu map showed, among other things, new knowledge of China. And that knowledge came from another Jezuit, Martino Martini. Martini had worked on cartography in China and traveled via Amsterdam on a trip back to Rome to work with Blaeu on a new map of China for his atlas. That atlas went back to China, where it served as the basis for Verbiest's map.

blaeu_atlas.jpg Martino Martini was a Jesuit who had learned mathematics and astronomy from Athanasius Kircher (who would later write toonneelvanchina) during the Ming period, explored and mapped the land and the end of the Ming (and the tumultuous beginning of the Qing). Then he went back west to confer with the church in Rome. On the journey west, he took his maps with him and on the way to Rome made a long detour to the cartographers and printers of Europe to make his maps known. In Amsterdam he worked with Joan Blaeu on his world atlas. The atlas has a whole book of maps of China, all made by Martino Martini. The book about China therefore bears his name on the title page. Blaeu also used Martini's maps in his large world map. That map was sent back to China where Ferdinand Verbiest, another Jesuit at the court of the Qing emperor, used Blaeu's world map for his world map. blaeu_overzicht.jpg

verbiest_overzicht01.jpg The first jesuit in China, Matteo Ricci, had also made a large world map to show the Chinese what the world looked like. It was a map that one could stand around, with all kinds of information about countries and astronomy in the margins of the map. Verbiest wanted to offer the new Qing emperor, the 康熙 emperor, an updated map, based on the very latest knowledge from the center of mapmakers: the workshop of Joan Blaeu. It is an impressive map with a lot of information about countries in the margins. The projection is taken from the Blaeu world map, the world is depicted as two hemispheres and not as one continuous map like Ricci's map.

verbiest_porto.jpg As with Ricci, the map also tells the story of the jesuits themselves. The departure point of the Jesuits is marked on the map. Strangely enough with the character 巴 (bā) and not with a boat with men in it like Ricci. Nowadays 巴 often refers to a bar, after all it sounds like the western bar. But Verbiest probably meant something different from the nightlife of Lisbon. He probably means hope here.

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en/kaarten/kaarten_blaeu_verbiest.txt · Last modified: 2023/03/29 21:08 by