SEKISUI, Nagakudo, after (1717-1801). FINE MANUSCRIPT MAP OF THE WORLD "Chikyu bankoku sankai yochi zenzu / Sekisui Cho Harutaka". N.p., ca.1850
Single sheet (12 x 23 inches), FINE MANUSCRIPT MAP OF THE WORLD, on an oval projection, pen and black ink and colour wash on rice paper, surrounded by explanatory text, with a key lower left (laid down on archival paper, wear to old folds with minor loss).
Manuscript copy of an 1850 woodcut world map of the same name, itself based on the original large 1785 map published by Nagakudo Sekisui. The form and lettering copies the woodcut map very closely, with the exception of a variant in the depiction of southern Africa and additional text in the margins.
Nagakudo Sekisui was an Edo period geographer and Confucian scholar, described as the founder of Japanesegeography, and the first Japanese cartographer to use lines of latitude and longitude on his maps. He was born into a peasant family in Hitachi Province, but in 1767 went to Nagasaki and was able to visit the Dejima and learn some of the geography of the world from the Dutch. In 1771 he was sent to Edo as the official tutor to the daimyo of Mito han. In 1779 his new revised map of Japan appeared and then in 1785 his new map of the world based on the geography of Matteo Ricci, both using geographicals. The Ricci form became the standard world map form in Japanese cartography for the next 70 years; copying Sekisui's map was commonplace, and undoubtedly manuscript copies also circulated, probably secretly among scholars.
Japan had been closed to the outside world for 200 years (those who left Japan faced execution upon return) and knowledge of the form of the world was not widely circulated. Sekisui's maps and their derivatives are therefore a foundation stone in the opening up of Japan to the outside world, and the changes in society brought about in the Meiji period.