Cartographic Accuracy and the Myth of Manchu Origins on the 1719 Overview Maps of the Imperial Territories

  • Fresco Sam-SinEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (LNGC)


The fourth khan of the originally inner-Asian Manchus, Elhe Taifin (r.1661–1722), initiated a project to map his Daiqing Empire (1636–1912), of which a large part consisted of the Chinese territories. The resulting atlases, made up of individual sheets and entitled Overview Maps of the Imperial Territories (1719) presented the khan with an opportunity to show his people how far they had come since his great grandfather Nurhaci had attacked Ming China. This cartographic project gave the court a canvas to map its highly mythical identity-building narrative surrounding their origins wherein, amid a hyperbolic landscape, a heavenly, immortal maiden became pregnant with the Manchu primogenitor by eating a red berry. The dissemination of this myth was made into a priority of the court, but so was the imperial policy on increasing cartographic consistency. The clash of these two agendas (myth vs. accuracy), and its translation onto the Overview Maps, forms the topic of this study.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Center for Material CultureLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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