Anonymous, Ch'ing Dynasty (1644-1911)
63 x 772 cm
The “Chih-fang-shih” section of the “Hsia-kuan” chapter of the Chou li (Rites of Chou) records that the "Chih-fang-shih (an official in charge of statistics, maps, and tributes) shall be in charge of the charts of the realm, so as to aid with the governing of the land." An exegesis to the original text defines the "chart of the realm" as "charts of the earth prepared by the Ssu-kung (an official in charge of reconstruction)," or maps. Among the imperial maps preserved today at the National Palace Museum are two versions of the “Draft Map of Taiwan”, a “Map of Taiwan”, and a “Map of Taiwan and the Penghu Archipelago”. The “Draft Map of Taiwan” includes one version with Manchu annotations and one in Chinese. Both are drawn in ink on paper and measure 127cm high by 123cm wide. Despite its title, the map limits its scope to a topographical view of the channel at Lu-erh-men Harbor in Tainan, Ch’ih-chu-ch’eng, and Ch’eng-t’ien-fu. The map bears the words "Wrongful vassal" and notes that the town of An-p’ing is the residence of Cheng Ching, the eldest son of the Ming loyalist Koxinga. From this we know that the map was drawn before the 20th year of the Kang-hsi reign (1681), when the Ch'ing subdued Cheng's forces on Taiwan. The “Map of Taiwan and the Penghu Archipelago”, pictured here, is 63cm high by 772cm long and drawn in ink and colors on paper. The legend indicates that west is to the front, east to the rear, north to the left, and south to the right. At the northern end is the hamlet of Chi-lung (present-day Keelung) and in the far south is Shamachitou. All of the mountains, rivers, harbors, islets, shoals, towns, government offices, temples, and forts are marked. Descriptions of the southern region are comparatively more detailed than in the north. In the first year of the Yung-cheng period (1723), Changhua county was under semi-control of the government; and in the twelfth year of the reign (1734), a bamboo wall was built around the county seat. Since Changhua county is indicated on the map without description of the fortifications, we may conclude that the map was drawn before the 12th or 13th year of the Yung-cheng period (1734 or 1735). The “Map of Taiwan” in the National Palace Museum collection is 46cm high by 667cm long and drawn in ink and colors on paper. This time, the bamboo fortifications at the capital of Changhua county are indicated. On the second day of the eleventh lunar month in the 52nd year of the Ch'ien-lung period (1787), Chuluo county was renamed as Chiayi county. Since this map retains the original name of the county, we know that the map was drawn sometime between the first year of the Ch'ien-lung period (1736) and the 52nd year of the reign (1787). Despite discrepancies in details, historic maps in the National Palace Museum collection provide an invaluable resource for the study of Taiwanese history.
Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum