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CHINA, JAPAN & KOREA: Karte von China und Japan den manen D'Anville's und Klapproth's gewidmet Potsdam von H.B. 1843. Zoom

CHINA, JAPAN & KOREA: Karte von China und Japan den manen D'Anville's und Klapproth's gewidmet Potsdam von H.B. 1843.


A rare and intriguing wall map of China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula, made by Heinrich Berghaus after Julius Klaproth’s ground-breaking map, issued just after the conclusion of the First Opium War, which forcibly open China to the West. 

Author: Heinrich Karl Wilhelm BERGHAUS (1797 - 1884) / Julius von KLAPROTH (1783 - 1835).
Place and Year: Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1843.
Code: 64555

Lithograph with original outline hand colour, contemporarily dissected into 20 sections and mounted on original linen (Good, generally with even toning, some small holes in original linen at joints, old tack marks with chipping to corners), 65.5 x 98 cm (26 x 38.5 inches).


This rare and high quality wall map depicts the Chinese Empire, Japan and the Korean Peninsula as they appeared immediately after the First Opium War (1839-42), a conflict that radically altered the political status of China and its relationship with the West.  The map was designed by the prominent German cartographer Heinrich Berghaus, with its depiction of China predicated on the recent ground-breaking map of the late Prussian academic, diplomat and adventurer Julius Klaproth.

The ‘Farben Erklärung’ (Legend) that occupies the lower left corner explains the colour-coding on the map that distinguished various political entities including: the ‘Chinesisches Reich’ (Chinese Empire): the traditional lands of China proper; Manchuria, Mongolia, Tibet, and the Western Lands (ex. Xinjiang); Tributary States of China: Annam, Siam, Bhutan and Nepal; Double Tributary States (countries that were in the unfortunate position of having to simultaneously pay tribute to both China and another country), notably Korea; Japan; and ‘Angranzende Länder’ (Bordering Lands): British India (specifically noting that Hong Kong now also belonged to Britain), the Russian Empire, and Burma, etc.

The map depicts all of the Chinese Empire (save a part of Hainan Island), as it then existed under the rule of the Qing Dynasty, divided into its traditional provinces, plus its Western Tributary states.  Overall, the geography is impressively detailed and accurate, featuring Klaproth’s recent improvements upon Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon D’Anville’s famous 1737 map, which for over a century served as the base map for China. 

The Chinese Empire reaches up to the northeast to take in much of Manchuria, the ancestral homeland of the Qing.  Curiously, however, perhaps owing Klaproth’s affinity for Russia developed during his time in St. Petersburg, the map supports Russian boundary claims in the region.  It shows Russia as possessing the land along the Sea of Okhotsk going all the way south to the future site of Vladivostok (the future Primorsky Krai region), a land which would not be ceded by China to Russia until 1860.

Importantly, the map shows Hong Kong as being a British possession (the name is underlined in the same hue of orange as that which colours British India).  Hong Kong Island was taken over by British forces in 1841, and was ceded by China to Britain in perpetuity at the Treaty of Nanking (1842).  Colour coding likewise identifies Macao as being a Portuguese possession, a status it had maintained since 1557.

In contrast to most of the rest of the map, Taiwan, labelled as ‘Thaiwan’ is not especially well charted, as western cartographers had scarcely visited its shores since the 1660s.

Cartographically, Korea has an improved geographical form over many previous maps, but its appearance predates the scientific surveys that would reveal its precise outlines. As noted, while Korea was technically an independent state under the Joseon Dynasty, it was both a tributary state of China and Japan.

Japan is very accurately charted, predicated on a composite of Western surveys, conduced even though the island empire would remain largely closed to Westerners until the late 1850s.

Interestingly, the lower left-hand corner of the map features a table transliterating the names words for geographical terms into the German-Latin alphabet from the following languages: Mandarin Chinese, Manchurian, Mongolian, Tibetan, Turkish, Persian, Korean, Japanese and Ainu (the native peoples of Hokkaido and the Kurile Islands).  This table is based on Klaproth’s work as linguist.

Historical Context

The present map was made during a period when China was at the top of global headlines.  During the 1830s, the European nations were highly desirous of acquiring Chinese goods, particularly silk, spices and tea, which were all considered luxuries in Europe.  Conversely, the market for Western products in China was virtually non-existent, in good part due to the fact that China was largely self-sufficient.  Moreover, Chinese trade laws mandated that Westerners were restricted to trading only through the port of Canton, forbidding their general access to the potentially boundless Chinese market (which consisted of one-third of the World’s population!).  Additionally, the Chinese government restricted the barter of most European goods, leaving silver and gold as the only acceptable method of payment.  This caused a silver shortage back in Europe and became a significant hindrance to trade.

This Western trade deficit with China was quickly alleviated when the Europeans realized that the Chinese population showed a propensity to become highly addicted to opium (from British India).  While opium was technically prohibited in China, for years this ban was loosely enforced and smuggling of the drug was rampant.  However, in the late 1830s, the Chinese authorities started to crack down heavily on the opium trade, a move that proved intolerable to the British.

This led to the First Opium War (1839-42), which was won by Britain, so securing her the port of Hong Kong, along with expansive trading rights in China.  In the succeeding years, intense European interest in China, coupled with political pressure on the Qing Dynasty, continued, leading up to the Second Opium War (1856-60), which hailed even greater Western interference within China.

The Mapmakers & the Creation of the Present Map

The present map’s depiction of China is based on Julius Klaproth’s ground-breaking Carte de la Chine (Paris, 1842).  Julius Klaproth (1783 – 1835) was a Prussian diplomat, adventurer, cartographer and linguist, who was one of the most intelligent and culturally sensitive Westerners to visit many parts of Asia during his era.  Born in Berlin, the son of the famous chemist Heinrich Klaproth, even as a teenager he became renown in academic circles as a master of Asian languages, publishing his own periodical on the topic, Asiatisches Magazin (Weimar 1802–1803).  He was soon given an appointment as a resident fellow at the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Due to his language skills, in 1805 he was appointed to join Count Golovkin’s Russian embassy to China, where he quickly mastered not only Mandarin, but several other Chinese dialects.  He was later sent by the Academy on a mission of intellectual discovery to the Caucuses (1807-8), whereupon he became a foremost authority on the region.  Klaproth was mentored by Alexander von Humboldt, and the latter arranged for the Prussian king to give him funding to study and write in Paris, whereupon he issued numerous works of critical importance to the study of Asiatic languages and culture.

Klaproth’s latter years were spent compiling what would have been a masterly work on China, entitled Description de la Chine.  A major part of the project was the creation of map of China predicated on the careful selection of only the very best sources, including military maps and British sea charts, most of which had never been adequately integrated into a composite map of China.  Klaproth was aided in this endeavour by the submissions of numerous academics, mapmakers and governments officials from all over the globe, who greatly admired his work.  Sadly, Klaproth died suddenly in 1835, in Paris, before his work could be completed, although he left a largely finished manuscript map of China.  His papers were taken up by his friends and his excellent map of China, Carte de la Chine, was published in Paris in two formats: one was edited by Louis H. Berthe and issued by Treuttle & Wurtz, 1842, and another appeared as a sizeable folding map within a rare work, Edouard Biot’s Dictionnaire des Noms Anciens et Moderns des Villes et Arrondissements de L’Empire Chinois (Paris, 1842).

The great German cartographer Heinrich Karl Wilhelm Berghaus (1797 - 1884) immediately took notice of Klaproth’s map.  Berghaus was a towering figure in German cartography.  Trained as a military surveyor during the Napoleonic Wars, he subsequently worked on the Prussian trigonometrical survey.  In the late 1820s, he formed a geographical school in Potsdam that served as a salon for Prussia’s greatest geographers and a workshop for drafting ground-breaking maps and topographic publications.  Berghaus was a scientifically minded cartographer and he was always committed to employing only the best empirical sources, as well as being a pioneer of thematic cartography.  His innumerable works consisted of the Physikalischer Atlas (Gotha, 1838–1848), Allgemeine Länder- und Völkerkunde (Stuttgart, 1837–1840), Grundriss der Geographie in fünf Büchern (Berlin, 1842), Die Völker des Erdballs (Leipzig, 1845–1847), Was man von der Erde weiß (Berlin, 1856–1860), and the Briefwechsel mit Alexander von Humboldt (Leipzig, 1863).

Berghaus issued the present map in 1843, largely based on Klaproth’s map of China, but with a larger geographical scope.  The present example of the map was separately-issued as a folding wall map, however other examples of the same map also served as the intended map no. 2 of Berghaus’s envisaged Atlas von Asia (1832-43).  However, this work was not an atlas in the conventional sense, as all of the maps were issued separately over a period of 11 years.  The project was never completed as not all of the planned for 19 maps were published (the intended maps nos. 1, 3, 4 and 18 were never issued), although from 1843 onwards groupings of the 15 realised maps were sometimes bound together to form an improvised atlas.  While Berghaus was a financially successful cartographer, for unknown reasons all of the Atlas von Asia maps were issued in only very limited print runs and are all today quite rare.  All of these maps were issued in Gotha, Saxony by the firm of Justus Perthes (founded in 1785), Germany’s premier cartographic publisher.

The present map of China is rare – we cannot locate any sales records from the last generation.

References: Hartmut Walravens, Julius Klaproth (1783-1835), Leben und Werk, no. 42 (p. 220); Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, Volumes 4-5 (1843), p. 541; OCLC: 165566356 and 77547015.