Two handscrolls: ink, color, and gold on silk; 2 ft. 6 3/4 in. x 42 ft. 2 in. (.78 x 12.85 m)
Purchase, W. M. Keck Foundation Gift, The Dillon Fund Gift and gifts from various donors, in memory of Douglas Dillon, 2006 (2006.272a,b)
This monumental pictorial map, over forty feet in length, is an extraordinary example of the merging of panoramic landscape painting and cartography in eighteenth-century China. The grand scale, meticulous artistry, and rich use of mineral colors identify it as a product of the Qing imperial court. Datable to between 1690 and 1722, the map represents the highest level of indigenous map making before the introduction of European cartographic techniques. Following traditional Chinese conventions, waterways appear to lie flat on the picture surface, mountains are depicted frontally, and architectural elements, notably walled towns and cities, are shown as isometric projections. There is no consistent use of foreshortening, perspective, atmospheric distortion, or diminution of scale to suggest spatial recession. But the resulting combination of pictorial and cartographic techniques creates the illusion of a bird's-eye view that is visually coherent. Unfettered by mathematical systems of measurement, the map enables the viewer to experience the drama of voyaging up the Yellow River from the East China Sea to the rapids of the Dragon Gate, taking in far more than the eye could see in reality.