Lot 125
  • 125

Sôkaku or Ryôsei Jôkei

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Da Ming sheng tu, 大明省圖 [Map of (China under) the Great Ming Dynasty]. (1691 or 1711)
  • ink on paper and sillk
MANUSCRIPT INK AND WATERCOLOUR MAP ON 2 LARGE FOLDING SHEETS OF NATIVE PAPER (overall image approximately 370 x 343cm.; each sheet approximately 370 x 171.5cm., excluding border), housed in a modern custom made blue cloth box, some minor wear and loss (chiefly along folds), expertly restored and laid down


Kazutaka, Unno. Tôyô-Chirigakushi Kenkyû (Monograph on the History and Geography in the East), 2005, pp. 488-501, (Sôkaku's map of China, p. 501); Seibundô, Ôsaka.
Lukacs, Gabor. Da Ming Sheng Tu [sic] An important little known seventeenth century manuscript map of China, The British Cartographic Journal, 2014, Vol. 51, No.1, pp. 52-62.

Catalogue Note


According to the long explanatory text on the eastern edge of the map (unique to this copy), a map of China was brought to Japan by one of the many refugees escaping the Manchu conquest of China in 1644 and the recent researches of Professor Unno Kazutaka and Dr Gabor Lukacs, this map was made from that Chinese original either by the Buddhist monk Sôkaku, 宗覚  (1639-1720), Kushûon In Temple, Hirakata, Ôsaka, in 1691 or by the monk Ryôsei Jôkei, 良聖成慶, Tôdaiji Temple, Nara, in 1711, depending on the interpretation of the text.

This map is extremely rare: in view of its monumental size, the original by a Chinese cartographer may have been made in one or only in a few copies for the Imperial Household rather than for commercial purposes. The original Chinese map has not been identified and is in all likelihood no longer extant, the other two known manuscript copies are in Kôbe City Museum and Kushûon In Temple, Ôsaka. The long text on this map is signed by its one-time owner or copyist, the Buddhist monk Ryôsei Jôkei of the Japanese southern capital (Nara). A full analysis of the map and the English translation of the long explanatory text were published in 2014 in The Cartographic Journal (reference below).

"This comprehensive, administrative division map can be regarded as a piece of historical material of great value. It is a valuable reference source for the study of the historical geography in the Ming period. Prominence is given to the seats of governments at all levels, the mountain ranges, the major rivers and their tributaries of the empire, as well as the holy Taoist and Buddhist mountains. The Great Wall, (literally: long fortress, 長城, as written in Chinese) is shown in dotted lines. Five sea-going Chinese boats and three small boats on Dongting Lake, 洞庭湖, in Hunan Province, China's largest source of sweet water, embellish the map. The highest peaks of the Kunlun Mountains, 崑崙山, are depicted to suggest perennial snow; many mountain passes, looking like gates surrounded by obstacles and frontier garrison posts are pictorially illustrated ... There is no scale, but 1 Cun (approx. 3 cm) corresponds to 100 Li, approximately 50 km. The distances of all important places, with respect to both Beijing and Nanjing are given in Li, 里" (Lukacs)

The Chinese scholar, Professor Meng Qingbo, 孟庆波, School of Foreign Studies, China University of Mining and Technology, Xuzhou City, Jiangsu Province, has been granted permission to translate Dr. Lukacs's paper into Chinese and publish it in the Chinese Journal of Historical Geography. Professor Qingbo's manuscript has been submitted for publication and is currently with the Chinese referees.