Mapmakers in China and Europe 1800–1844: The Perspective of William Huttmann, Royal Geographical Society

  • Ines Eben von RacknitzEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (LNGC)


From the late 1700s until 1880, no official or comprehensive map based on first-hand surveys of China was created in Europe. In Qing China (1644–1911) as well, cartographers relied on the Kangxi Atlas maps until the 1860s and 1870s. These were based on exploratory surveys and created with the consultancy of Jesuit mathematicians, and had been revised and augmented several times by the Yongzheng (r. 1722–1735) and Qianlong (r. 1735–1796) emperors. Following the signing of the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842, the Royal Geographical Society in London asked the geographer William Huttmann to recommend cartographic works from which to compile a new and updated map. This paper analyses Huttmann’s recommendations, placing them into the cartographic context of 1844, in order to investigate the cartographic and geographic situation in-between the large surveys undertaken during the imperial age of the eighteenth century and the colonial age at the end of the nineteenth century. As a foundation for a new map, Huttmann recommended maps of Qing cartographers to be taken as a basis, as well as the survey maps produced during the Kangxi era with the consultancy and co-authorship of Jesuit missionaries. The information provided therein was to be supplemented by reports of individual travelers. Huttmann does not mention and recommend the maps of the smaller, newly evolving geographic societies and institutions in Europe, which continued to develop scientific cartographies, but which did not include new first-hand materials.


  1. Cams M (2014) The China maps of Jean-Baptiste bourguignon d’Anville: origins and supporting networks. Imago Mundi 66(1):51–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cams M (2017) Not just a Jesuit Atlas of China: Qing imperial cartography and its European connections. Imago Mundi 69(2):188–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chen W (1984) 圆明园残毁考Yuanming yuan canhui kao. 圆明园材料Yuanming yuan zailiao: 166–188Google Scholar
  4. Davis F (1836) The Chinese; a general description of the empire of China and its inhabitants. Knight, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. De Guignes J (1805) Tagebuch einer Reise nach Sina und in die Tartarey. WeimarGoogle Scholar
  6. Dépôt de la guerre (1865) Der Krieg gegen China im Jahre 1860. Dyk, Leipzig Google Scholar
  7. Eben von Racknitz I (2012) Die Plünderung des Yuanming yuan. Imperiale Beutenahme im britisch-französischen Chinafeldzug von 1860. Franz Steiner Verlag StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  8. Ellis H (1817) Lord Amherst’s Embassy to China; with observations on the country and the people. John Murray LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Fortune R (1847) The Northern Provinces of China: three years of wanderings. Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. Fortune R (1853) Two visits to the tea countries of China, vol 2. Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. Fortune R (1857) A residence among the Chinese: scenes and adventures during a third visit to China, 1853–56. Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
  12. Gao H (2016) The ‘Inner Kowtow Controversy’ during the Amherst Embassy, 1816–1817. Diplomacy Statecraft 27(4):595–614CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gützlaff C (1834) Journal of three voyages along the coast of China, in 1831, 1832, 1833. LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Hostetler L (2009) The Qing Empire in Manchu, Chinese and European maps. In: Akerman J (ed) Cartography and the Mastery of Empire. The imperial map. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  15. Huc E (1856) Das chinesische Reich. Dyk, LeipzigGoogle Scholar
  16. Hummel A (ed) (1943) Eminent Chinese of the Ch’ing Period (1644–1912), vol 2. Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  17. Huttmann W (1821) A notice of Dr. Morrison’s Chinese dictionary. Asiatic J 12:566–577Google Scholar
  18. Huttmann W (1844) On Chinese and European Maps of China. J Roy Geogr Soc London 14:117–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lehner G (2004) Der Druck chinesischer Zeichen in Europa: Entwicklungen im 19. Jahrhundert, Harrassowitz, WiesbadenGoogle Scholar
  20. Loch H (1900) Personal narrative of occurrences during lord Elgin’s second Embassy to China in 1860. J. Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
  21. Lü Y (2016) On the genesis of colonial geography: China in Petermann’s Geographische Mitteilungen 1855–1914. Ger Life Lett 69(1):1468–1483Google Scholar
  22. Mosca M (2013) From frontier policy to foreign policy. The question of India and the transformation of geopolitics in Qing China. Stanford University Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  23. Needham J (1959) Geography and cartography. In: Needham J (ed) (1959) Science and civilisation in China, vol 3, Cambridge, vol III. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  24. Osterhammel J (2009) Die Verwandlung der Welt. Eine Geschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts. CH Beck MünchenGoogle Scholar
  25. Perdue P (2005) China Marches West. The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia. The Belknap Press of Harvard University PressGoogle Scholar
  26. The Annual Register or a view for the History and Politics of the Year 1844 (1845). LondonGoogle Scholar
  27. Timkovski M (1827) Voyàge à Péking, A travers Mongolie, en 1820 et 1821. Dondé-Dupre, ParisGoogle Scholar
  28. Waley-Cohen J (1993) China and western technology in the late eighteenth century. Am Hist Rev 98(5):1525–1544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wei B (2006) Ruan Yuan (1764–1849). The life and work of a major scholar-official in nineteenth-century China before the Opium War. Hong Kong University Press, Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  30. Yee C (1994) Traditional Chinese Cartography and the myth of Westernization. In: Harley J, Woodward D (ed) (1994) The history of cartography, vol II, book 2, chapter 7. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nanjing UniversityNanjingChina

Personalised recommendations