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Round sky and square earth (Tian Yuan Di Fang): ancient Chinese geographical thought and its influence

Abstract

“Round sky and square earth” is a basic concept in the tradition of ancient Chinese geography. It appeared at least two thousand years ago and has influenced Chinese geography significantly — both for good and for ill. As an academic subject in China, the history of geographical thought is new. It has become “the center of geographical history” (Yang 1989, p. 7; Wang 1982, p. 4). This transformation began in the 1980s. Earlier studies of the history of ancient Chinese geography paid more attention to the history of exploration, cartography, and geographers themselves. It neglected serious study of the concept and influence of the idea of round sky and square earth. This paper discusses this concept, its influence on ancient Chinese cartography, and its significance in early geographical literature, specifically the Geographical Society Yu Gong (Tribute of Yu).

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Zhao, Z. Round sky and square earth (Tian Yuan Di Fang): ancient Chinese geographical thought and its influence. GeoJournal 26, 149–152 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00241209

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Keywords

  • Environmental Management
  • Basic Concept
  • Chinese Geography
  • Academic Subject
  • Geographical Society