RHYS, John David

Cambrobrytannicae Cymraecaeue linguae. 

London, Excudebat Thomas Irwin’s, 1592.


FIRST EDITION. Folio pp. [xxiv], 70, 73-304, [ii]. [2] folding tables. Roman and Italic letter. Small woodcut printer’s device on title, floriated woodcut initials, grotesque woodcut head-pieces, near contemporary inscription in Welsh (purchase note?) at head of title page. Light age yellowing, the occasional mark or spot. A very good copy, crisp and clean, in early C18th speckled calf over boards, rebacked with spine laid down, raised bands gilt ruled in compartments, with gilt fleurons, a little rubbed and scratched.

The first edition of this most important and famous Welsh grammar, the first scientific grammar of the Welsh language; amongst the complimentary verses prefixed to the volume are a set by William Camden. Rhys states, in his lengthy preface in Welsh, that he had written the work in Latin, as he felt it was easier to explain Welsh in Latin than in English. The work contains a dedication to Sir Edward Stradling who urged Rhys to undertake the work and who financed its printing. The work is important as one of the first studies of the Welsh language and for the anthology of early Welsh poetry which it contains.

“John David Rhys. (or ‘ Siôn Dafydd Rhys ’), physician and grammarian of a humble family … After spending some time at Christ Church College , Oxford , he departed for the Continent about 1555 and travelled extensively — he himself states that he visited Venice , Crete , and Cyprus — finally becoming a member of the University of Siena , where he graduated as a doctor of medicine. He was also a teacher at a school in Pistoia. It is not known for how long he remained on the Continent, but he was back in Wales by 1579 , and in 1583 he was practising as a physician at Cardiff . .. Two books by him appeared during his stay on the Continent. One was De Italica Pronunciatione ( Padua , 1569 ), which was probably intended for the use of Welshmen visiting Italy, and which proves the author’s familiarity with all the principal European languages. The other work was a Latin grammar published at Venice, and said to have been very popular with students, but no copy seems to have survived. After returning to Wales and devoting some years to the collection of material Rhys published, in 1592, his famous Welsh grammar, Cambrobrytannicae Cymraecaeve Linguae Institutions et Rudimenta. The book was dedicated to Sir Edward Stradling of S. Donats, Glam., who had defrayed the cost of printing. It consists of a grammar of the Welsh language together with a lengthy and laborious discussion of Welsh prosody.  As a work of scholarship it has very little merit, because the author , who had none of the gifts of Gruffydd Robert or Dr. John Davies for analysing the structure of language, adopted the grammatical framework of Latin and forced the Welsh language into that. … It should be observed however that the book contains items of knowledge which are not found elsewhere. The author’s aim was to make known outside Wales the peculiarities of the Welsh language and the main features of the bardic tradition, and this is the reason why the book was written in Latin.” Dictionary of Welsh Biography. A very good copy of this most important and rare Welsh Grammar.

ESTC S115912. STC 20966.



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ZEROLA, Tommasi [with] VISCONTI, Zaccaria


Sancti Iubilaei ac indulgentiarum … tractates [with] Complementum artis exorcisticae.

Venice, Giorgio Varisco, 1600 [with] Venice, Francesco Bariletti, 1600.


Two works in one volume. 8vo: 1): FIRST EDITION: pp. [48], 336, [8]; 2): FIRST EDITION: pp. [6], 716, [36]. Roman letter, little Italic; printer’s devices on titles and end of 1), initials floriated or historiated and decorative tail-pieces; minor wormtrails on blanks of first gathering, a few leaves aged browned, occasional light foxing to margins. A good copy in fine contemporary German alum-taw pigskin, blind-tooled with external floral roll and central panel with fleur-de-lys at corners and monogram of Christ on front, of Mary on rear; contemporary titles inked on labels at spine, remains of ties, edges diagonally sprinkled in red and blue; faint armorial library stamp on verso of front pastedown, contemporary shelf marks and inscription ‘Pro conventu Suazensi Fr[atr]um Min[orum]’ on first title.

Elegantly bound volume comprising two uncommon first edition treatises connected with the Catholic Jubilee of 1600. Little is known about their authors. Tommaso Zerola (1548-1603) was an acclaimed canon lawyer of Benevento and later bishop of Minori, while Zaccaria Visconti, professional exorcist of the Barnabite Congregation of St Ambrose in Milan and teacher of this art, flourished between the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century. The first work, dedicated to the pope’s nephew Cardinal Cinzio Aldobrandini, deals extensively with the practice of indulgence or remission of sins – a highly relevant topic for pilgrims going to Rome on the occasion of the Holy Year. The second and more curious treatise addresses exorcism, providing the theological and theoretic framework as well as a manual of instruction on techniques, prayers, formulae, rituals and all sorts of remedies to expel the Evil within. As pointed out in the initial dedication, Visconti hoped that his books would help reduce the number of cases of demonic possession recently recorded in the Milanese area.

This copy belonged to the Franciscan convent of Schwaz, in Tyrol, once a prominent silver-mining centre of the Augsburg Empire.

1): Not in Brunet or Graesse. BM STC It., Suppl., 83; Adams, Z 140.

2): Not in Brunet or BM STC It. Adams, V 629.



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Historia de los animales mas recebidos en el uso de Medicina.

Madrid, Imprenta Real, 1613.


FIRST EDITION. 4to, pp. [16], 454, [2]. Roman letter, little Greek and Italic; printer’s device on title, foliated and grotesque initials, typographical tail-pieces; a few leaves age browned, dampstain to lower gutter and occasionally to margins, clean tear to p. 259. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, faint contemporary title and shelfmark inked on spine; slightly rubbed; pastedown and endpapers from folded leaves of two manuscript religious treatises; late seventeenth-century inscription ‘Marcelo, esclavo de Jesus, Maria y Joseph’ on title; contemporary shared ex libris of three Spanish monks on penultimate verso, a few marginalia by another contemporary and later hands, including juvenile scribbles on verso of final leaf.

Rare first edition of a curious pharmaceutical compendium concerning the use of animal ingredients. Little is known about Francisco Vélez de Arciñega, a respected chemist and writer active between 1593 and 1624. Born and educated in Toledo, he soon moved to Madrid, probably to work for the Spanish court. Although not at the forefront of the scholarly debate, his medical works in Latin and Spanish were widely read in contemporary Spain, especially his translation of the writings of the Syrian physician Mesue the Younger, died 1050. His Historia de los animals provides a colourful insight into the early seventeenth-century Spanish pharmacopeia. It is divided into five books, dealing with quadrupeds, reptiles, birds, fish and shellfish, illustrating how to take advantage of their healing properties with a bizarre mix of scientific intuition, classical mythology and zoology, religious superstition and trivial folklore.

One of the earliest owners of this copy appears to be a triad of monks, who inscribed their names (‘Frater Antonius a Fonte, Frater Ysidorus de Hombrador, Frater Ferdinandus a Casteston’) into a simple circle before the colophon. The monasteries, at this time, were still the principal dispensary of medicine and remedies, especially for the ordinary people of the Catholic world.

Rare. Not in Wellcome, Heirs of Hippocrates, Garrison and Morton, Bibliotheca Osleriana. BM STC Sp. 17th, V 339; Graesse, VII, 274 (incorrectly as published in 1615); Palau, 357764.



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Lawes and orders of warre, established for the good conduct of the seruice in Ireland.

London, Christopher Barker (?), 1599 (?).


FIRST EDITION. 4to., pp. 10. (lacking last blank). Roman letter. A large historiated woodcut initial and woodcut headpiece. Recto of A1 and last leaf dusty, the odd marginal spot or mark, minor repair to upper outer corner of first and last leaf. A good copy in modern three-quarter calf over marbled paper boards, spine with gilt title.

Extremely rare and most interesting pamphlet published by Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, on the eve of his campaign in Ireland in 1599, the largest expeditionary force ever sent to Ireland with over 16,000 troops. Essex had orders to put an end to the Irish rebellion and departed London to the cheers of crowds. It was expected that the rebellion would be crushed instantly. Essex had declared to the Privy Council that he would confront O’Neill in Ulster. Instead, he led his army into southern Ireland, where he fought a series of inconclusive engagements, wasted his funds, and dispersed his army into garrisons, while the Irish won two important battles in other parts of the country. Rather than face O’Neill in battle, Essex entered a truce that some considered humiliating to the Crown and to the detriment of English authority. The Queen herself told Essex that if she had wished to abandon Ireland, it would scarcely have been necessary to send him there.

The thirty seven orders given in this pamphlet are of great interest for military historians, and are designed specifically for troops in Ireland. Essex prefaces the work with a short introduction, stating ‘And military discipline cannot bee kept where the rules or chiefe partes thereof bee not certainly set downe and generally knowen.’ The first orders include directions requiring troops to attend sermons, morning and evening prayer, to respect the ‘holy and blessed Trinitie.’ Many of the orders have a specific Irish connection and reflect the difficulties facing an invading force that needs both to maintain good relations with and simultaneously to discourage sympathy or collusion with the local population.

“No Souldier of the Armie shall do violence to the person, or steale, or violently take, or wilfully spoyle the goods of any Irish good subject, upon paine of death,” and “No man wether hee be souldier or other, English or Irish, shal have conference or intelligence with any enemy or Rebell, that is in open action against her Maiestie.” Many of the orders are of great social interest and concern such things as drunkenness and adultery; “No man shall ravish or force any woman, upon paine of death. And adulteries or fornications shal be punished by imprisonment,’ or “No Souldier serving on Foote, shall carrie any Boy, nor no Woman shall bee suffered to follow the Armie.”

This work is particularly rare. ESTC lists only one copy held in libraries in the USA, at the Huntington Library and ABPC records no copy at auction.

ESTC S107432. STC 14131. USTC 513940. Not in Cockle.


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Ricardi Archiepiscopi Armachani Hyberniae Primatis Defensorum Curatorum aduersus eos qui privilegiatos se dicunt.

Paris, Apud Petrum Billaine, 1633.


8vo., pp. (xvi) 168. á8, A-K8, L4. (á7+8 blank). Roman letter, some Italic. Small woodcut ornament on title, floriated woodcut initials and woodcut headpieces. Light age yellowing, the very occasional marginal spot or mark. A very good copy in modern three-quarter calf over marbled boards, spine with raised bands, blind ruled in compartments, blind fleurons.

Extremely rare edition of the major published work of the C14th Archbishop of Armagh, Richard Fitzralph, the first printed book by an Irish author, a work which defended the secular clergy in their contest with the mendicant orders; this edition was most probably printed in Paris, at the instigation of the secular priest Paul Harris, who was himself involved in a similar dispute in Dublin over three centuries later.

Richard FitzRalph, Archbishop of Armagh, one of the most eminent Irish churchmen of the middle ages, was born at Dundalk around the end of the 13th century, and was educated at Oxford where he became Chancellor in 1333. He was made Chancellor of the church of Lincoln in 1334, became Archdeacon of Chester in 1336, and was installed Dean of Lichfield in 1337. He was advanced to the see of Armagh By Pope Clement VI, and was consecrated at Exeter, on 8th July 1347.

“Fitzralph’s controversy with the friars came to a crisis when he was cited to Avignon in 1357. Avowing his entire submission to the authority of the Holy See, he defended his attitude towards the friars in the plea entitled “Defensorium Curatorum.” He maintained as probable that voluntary mendicancy is contrary to the teachings of Christ. His main plea, however, was for the withdrawal of the privileges of the friars in regard to confessions, preaching, burying, etc. He urged a return to the purity of their original institution, claiming that these privileges undermined the authority of the parochial clergy. The friars were not molested, but by gradual legislation harmony was restored between them and the parish clergy. Fitzralph’s position, however, was not directly condemned, and he died in peace at Avignon.” Catholic Encyclopaedia.

This edition contains an additional foreword under the title, ‘Ad Lectorem prefatio apologetic’ which has been attributed to the secular priest Paul Harris, then involved in a violent dispute with Thomas Fleming, Franciscan archbishop of Dublin. Paul Harris was not the only Secular Priest to oppose the Friars, and it is certain that the secular priests looked to FitzRalph’s work for inspiration.

“David Rothe, Bishop of Ossory, and first member of the new counter-reformation episcopate being established in Ireland from 1618, was alleged to hold the view that members of religious orders had forfeited their rights to the old monastic impropriations and even speculated that members of religious orders were not, in the strict sense members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Rothe’s regular opponents even dubbed him un Segundo Richardo Armachano after Richard FitzRalph the anti-mendicant fourteenth-century archbishop.” John McCafferty. ‘The Reconstruction of the Church of Ireland’. A very good copy of a very rare work.

Not in BM STC Fr. C16th. Shaaber F118. Three locations only, none in the US.


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THYRAEUS, Gulielmus


Discursus panegyrici de nominibus, tribulationibus, et miraculis S. Patricii Ibernorum apostoli, cum exhortatione ad perfectiones pro fide patienter ferendas, & apostophe ad Iberniam.

Douai, Baltazaris Belleri, 1617.


FIRST EDITION. 12mo., pp. 213, (ix). Roman letter, some Italic. Small typographical ornaments on title, small woodcut initials and typographical headpieces, ‘Applicatus Bibliothecae Fratum minorum Cork’ in a slightly later hand on title page, C19th library stamp of the “Franciscan Friary, Liberty Street Cork” on front fly. Light age yellowing, title page fractionally dusty, minor repairs to the blank margins of the last few leaves, the occasional minor spot or mark. A very good, clean copy in C19th black morocco, covers bordered with a double blind rule, spine with blind ruled raised bands, fleurons gilt in compartments with title and date gilt lettered, inner dentelles richly gilt, all edges gilt, a little worn, in modern calf slipcase.

Exceptionally rare first and only edition of this ‘Panegyric on St. Patrick,’ published in exile at Douai, by the Irish Catholic titular Bishop of Cork, William Thirry. Thirry was born in Cork but forced into exile due to his faith and received his education at Douai, where he was ordained. This work on the life and miracles of Saint Patrick was clearly intended for an Irish Catholic audience and as a result was met with disdain by the ecclesiastical authorities in Ireland; the protestant bishop Ussher heaped scorn on the work, though he was later to use the Life of St. Patrick for such sectarian purposes himself.

In the late sixteenth century and seventeenth century, the history or the story of the life of St. Patrick was coloured by sectarian interest and the Church of Ireland was anxious to trace its origins to Patrick himself. Thus Thirry’s work, which aimed to reclaim St. Patrick for the Catholic cause, caused a great deal of upset and was on the receiving end of much criticism. James Ussher himself wrote much on Irish church history, although it was strongly polemical in tone. He stated in the introduction to his work, ‘A Discourse of The Religion Anciently Professed by The Irish and British’ (Dublin 1631) “but as far as I can collect by such records of the former ages as have come unto my hands (either manuscript or printed) the religion professed by the ancient bishops, priests, monks, and other Christians in this land, was for substance the very same with that which now by public authority is maintained therein, against the foreign doctrine brought in thither in latter times by the bishop of Rome’s followers. And those same followers he saw with all greediness embrace, and with a most strange kind of credulity entertain those lying legends, wherewith their monks and friars in these latter days have polluted the religion and lives of our ancient saints.”

The work is divided into three parts the longest of which concerns the miracles of Saint Patrick. It was edited by Fr. Patrick Donovan in Douai. This work is exceptionally rare. Shaaber gives two locations only, at Dublin, Trinity College and at the British Library and there is no copy recorded at auction by ABPC.

Not in BM STC Fr. C16th. Allison and Rogers 1250. Shaaber T16.


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The ryght and trew vndersta[n]dynge of the Supper of the Lord and the vse therof faythfully gathered out of ye holy Scriptures worthely to be embrased of all Christen people.

London, Johan Turke [E. Whitechurch? for Iohan Turke], 1550 (?).


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. 44 unnumbered leaves. A-E⁸ F⁴. Black letter. Title page within fine woodcut architectural border, woodcut floriated initials, “Mary Thorner her book hand and Pen Decem 16, 1711” on verso of last, repeated in blank margin of text and on front cover, Nicolas R. Tath 1842 with the title and author manuscript on upper cover. A few scribbled letters in blank margin of title, offsetting caused by the ink not being dry when folded in the first gathering, title page a little dusty, blank outer upper corner of A2 burnt, minor dust soiling in places. A very good copy, stab bound in an early vellum legal document leaf, a little rubbed and soiled, folding box.

Very rare first and only edition of this staunch Protestant tract on the Eucharist dedicated to Prince Edward the VI, probably published in the early years of his reign, by the future archbishop of Armagh Thomas Lancaster. The controversy surrounding the subject of the Eucharist had been debated in a series of pamphlets since St. Thomas More produced his discourses on the subject from the 1530s until his execution. It was perhaps the most bitterly debated subject in the early Protestant and Catholic rift in Britain.

“An enthusiastic protestant, he in June 1551 attended the conference which the lord deputy, Sir James Croft, held at Dublin with George Dowdall, the primate, whose Roman catholic leanings were well known. In 1552 Lancaster was installed in the deanery of Ossory, which he held in commendam with his bishopric. On 2 Feb. 1553 he assisted in the consecration of John Bale as bishop of Ossory, and about the same time published an important statement of his doctrinal position in ‘The Ryght and Trew Understandynge of the Supper of the Lord and the use thereof faythfully gathered out of ye Holy Scriptures,’ London, by Johan Turke, n.d. 8vo. It is dedicated to Edward VI. A copy is in the British Museum. Lancaster’s style of argument resembles Bale’s. … He was a member of the lower house of convocation, and on 5 Feb. 1562-3 was in the minority of fifty-eight who approved of the proposed six formulas committing the English church to ultra-protestant doctrine and practices, as against fifty-nine who opposed the change. In the same year he signed the petition of the lower house of convocation for reform of church discipline.” DNB.

Lancaster was forced into retirement from his post as Bishop of Kildare under Mary, as he married, but was later made Archbishop of Armagh with the support of Sir William Cecil in 1568.

A most interesting and revealing work as it shows the doctrinal position of the Archbishop during one of the most formative periods in the history of Ireland. A very rare work. STC gives four locations only in the US; at Folger, Huntington, Massachusetts Historical Society and at Yale.

ESTC S108242. STC 15188.


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CAREW, Thomas


Itinerarium R.D. Thomae Carue Tripperariensis …. cum histori facti Butleri, Gordon, Lesley & aliorum – (with) Itinerarium, Pars Altera.

Mainz, Nicolaus Heyll, 1640 and 1641.


12mo. Two volumes. 1) pp. (xxxii), 328, (vi). 2) (xxiv), 370, (xiv) (last two leaves blank). Roman letter, some Italic. Floriated initials, woodcut and typographical ornaments, “Ad Biblioth; aul; Eystettensem” in early hand on half title of first volume. Light age yellowing, the very rare marginal spot. Very good copies in C19th dark blue, fine grained, morocco, covers gilt ruled to a panel design, vine leaf fleurons gilt to outer corners, large central fleuron gilt of vase and flowers, spine with raised bands richly gilt in compartments with large ‘holy dove’ tools to centers, all edges gilt, extremities rubbed.

Very rare, second issue of the first part, and first edition of the second part of Thomas Carew’s most interesting and important work, a first hand description of his travels and experience as Chaplain to Walter Butler and Walter Devereux of the Scottish-Irish regiment in Germany, of capital importance for the history of the Thirty Years’ War.

Carew “took priest’s orders and appears to have been stationed in the diocese of Leighlin. He left Ireland for Germany, and having stayed as chaplain for four years with Walter Butler (d. 1634), a kinsman of the Marquis of Ormonde, then serving as colonel of an Irish regiment in the army of Ferdinand II of Austria, he returned to his native country. In 1630 he again set out on his travels, and at this date his curious and valuable ‘Itinerary’ was begun. He remained with Walter Butler for two years, and returned at the period of the battle of Lützen; but after a short visit to his friends in Ireland he started again for Germany in 1633. On arriving at Stuttgart about September 1634 he heard of the death of his patron Walter Butler, and he transferred his services as chaplain to Walter Devereux, formerly the chief officer and now the successor of Butler. He accompanied the army of Charles III, duke of Lorraine, in its incessant movements, and afterwards joined the main forces under Gallas.

In April 1639 he finished the first part of his ‘Itinerary,’ and had it printed at Mainz, with a dedication to the Marquis of Ormonde, in which he says: ‘Not in the quiet chamber of study has it been composed, but beneath the tents of war, where my busy pen found no peace from the ominous clangour of the hoarse trumpet and the loud roll of the battle-drum; where my ear was stunned by the dreadful thunder of the cannon, and the fatal leaden hail hissed round the paper on which I was writing.’ In 1640 he was appointed chaplain-general of all the English, Scotch, and Irish forces, and in that capacity continued to serve with the army after the death of Devereux. It is probable that about 1643 he went to reside at Vienna in his character of notary apostolic and vicar-choral of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in that city. All his works are extremely rare.” Catholic Encyclopaedia. He published a fourth part of his Itinerary in 1646 which is mythically rare.

The provenance ‘ad Bibliothecam aulicam Eystettensem’ refers to the Library of the Dominican Monastery in Eichstaat, founded in the thirteenth century, which had an important collection of early printings. An excellent copy of this rare and most interesting work.

BM STC Ger C17 Vol I C304 and C306.


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KOREAN MAP, Capital Province


Map of the capital province, Joseon Korea.

Korea, first half of 18th century.


Hand-drawn map, first half of the 18th century, depicting the capital (gyeonggi 京畿) province of Joseon Korea. It is fourth of the eight provinces of Joseon Korea (Joseon paldo 朝鮮八道, which were reorganised into the 13 modern provinces in 1896.) It states the administrative classification of each district or outpost, as well as how many days of overland travel are required to reach it from the capital. It was intended to aid scholar-officials holding government civil service positions in planning their journeys. This map was produced by an unknown Joseon Korean cartographer in the celebrated and highly distinctive “Jeong Cheok” style, and it is a superb example of this quintessential pre-19th century cartographical tradition.

Mounted within thin oriental wood, framed and glazed, on bamboo paper, measuring 45cm x 39.3cm, including fabric border of 6.1-6.7cm. The map itself is 32.2cm x 27.1cm. Text border on all sides, however all but the outer border have been cropped. The border that remains is 0.9-1.2cm deep, with a slither remaining along the top. The paper has occasional faint darker areas, however none diminish the legibility or artistry. The map was folded into twelve parts, leaving two horizontal and three vertical creases, with very slight wear, including a small hole in the lower centre of the map at the intersection of two creases. Small tear in the far lower left, however the area affected is only ocean. There is also a small black smudge in the ocean just off the tip of the north-western peninsula.

The map has been produced in the style of Jeong Cheok (정척/鄭陟, 1390– 1475), a successful 15th century cartographer, himself a scholar-retainer who served several Joseon kings. The modern concepts of latitude and longitude were not understood in Korea until the early 19th century, and the flatness and distortion of the land in Jeong Cheok-style representations reflect this. Nonetheless, the shape, layout, and topographical properties of the provinces are depicted with impressive accuracy, enabling an overland traveller to plan the most direct route avoiding natural barriers. “Jeong Cheok” maps bear a number of distinct stylistic characteristics. First, further information is added in a text border surrounding the map. Second, natural topographical features are highly simplified; mountains are indicated symbolically as a jagged row of uniform peaks, and coasts and waterways are low-detail. Third, districts – always with two-syllable names – and military bases are represented by uniformly sized bubbles. In this map, these bubbles are pink; the district name is written down the centre of the bubble; to the right is the number of days of overland travel required to reach it from the capital, and to the left is its administrative classification. The capital city (gyeong ) bubble is circled twice. The Joseon administrative classification system includes, from largest to smallest, the bu (provincial capital city), mok (mid-level city), gun or su (county or prefecture), and finally lyeong or gam (small town).

The lines and text of the map are drawn in black ink. Land is uncoloured, while water is depicted in a light blue wash. Strikingly, water is coloured darker blue where it meets land. Mountains are coloured brown and labelled. Islands, also named, are depicted as white ovals in the ocean. Land-based outposts (yeogdo 驛道) and offshore ocean settlements are marked in white boxes. There is a title box with “Capital – [province] four” (gyeonggi sa 京畿四) in the top right corner. Within the text border running along the top, left, and right sides, there are remarks about what lies beyond the map in these directions.


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L1756 Ming China

Overview of the Realm (Tianxia tu lüe 天下圖略).

China, between 1625-1650.


Fascinating hand-drawn map depicting Ming明 dynasty (1368 – 1644) China and surrounding lands produced by an unknown Chinese cartographer between 1625 and 1650. The map aids long distance journeys by water. It makes prominent the inland waterway networks and oceans of Ming China and beyond. It also depicts those locations – cities, countries, and islands – that can be accessed by navigating expanses of water, including distant locations. Other unusual features include the notation of corresponding constellations for each province and the names of local tribes. Stylistically, the map is clear and minimal, using a simple palette of red, brown, and blue wash. Overall, with its culturally rich and eclectic content and its portable size, this map would have been a valued personal possession of an enthusiastic and well-travelled scholar, learned merchant, or even Jesuit. It is highly likely that the map was unique to its original owner.

Mounted within thin oriental dark wood, framed and glazed, measuring 39cm x 30.5cm, on bamboo paper. The paper is slightly yellowed and there are occasional darker marks, however none of this diminishes the legibility or artistry. Previously folded into six parts, the creases are dark and worn, so writing and imagery is occasionally partially obscured. Small tear on character “略” of the title. The map is bordered with a thin black line, set within a further black-lined border, 3.5cm deep at foot, 1-1.3cm at left, 0.3-0.6cm at right, and 5.3-5.5cm deep at head. The map measures 28.5cm (head) x 28.7cm (foot) x 29.7cm (left) x 29.4cm (right); it does not form a perfect square. In the top right hand corner is a box bearing the title “天下圖略” (and the final character is a variant.) Text and lines are in black ink. Land is not coloured, water is indicated with a pale blue wash, and mountains are dark brown. Province boundaries not obvious from natural topological barriers are lined red. Ringed in red are cities of political, cultural, and historical significance. Names of the provinces are ringed in black, and of towns and cities in black boxes.

Within the map, the fourteen administrative provinces of Ming China are disproportionately expanded relative to surrounding areas. They account for approximately 80% of the surface. The layout of the inland waterway network is the most prominent feature. Minor rivers are rendered as large as major ones, and named. Lakes and even the sources of some rivers are named. Also privileged are the relative positions of major waterside settlements. The map depicts them as similarly sized and spaced, illustrating at a glance the order in which one would arrive if travelling by boat. This depiction of the waterway network and its cities is distorted to fill the area of Ming China, and water-poor areas in the far west and north are dramatically shrunk or dispensed with entirely. Compensating for the distortion, the true distance between major Ming Chinese cities is stated in miles (li ) at several points.

Cities and districts of greatest political, cultural, and historical significance are ringed in red: the northern and southern capitals of Beijing 北京 and Nanjing 南京, the cultural centre and ancient capital of Luoyang 洛陽, and Xianyang 咸陽. Xianyang was important to the Western Zhou (1046 – 771 BC, remembered as a halcyon period of pre-imperial China) and as well as the capital of the first dynasty, the Qin (221 – 206 BC), and these dynasties are noted on the map. Also drawn and named are several mountain ranges, which would serve as markers for navigation by water. Interestingly, the name markers of many of the fourteen provinces and Joseon Korea (Chaoxian 朝鮮) are accompanied by the name of corresponding constellations from among the twenty-eight lunar lodges (ershiba su 二十八宿). The Great Wall (chang cheng 長城) is marked, but its shape is distorted. For example, Ming extensions of the Wall into the east, which reach to the modern border of North Korea, are depicted as a stub. Similarly, the western extremities of the Wall extending through modern Gansu and Xinjiang are shrunk and simplified.

Water features are also the focus in the depiction of territories beyond the border. Interestingly, foreign water features are rendered as large and as clearly as those within Ming China, even if unconnected. These include Lake Baikal (Hanhai 瀚海) and, in the southwest, what appears to be the Indus river. Mountains that are near to or form the source include the Khentii mountains (Langjushan 狼居山) and of greatest cultural importance, the Kunlun 崑崙 mountains in the west. One of the most intriguing features is the depiction of the mythical underground river linking the Yellow River back to its imagined source in the Kunluns, drawn in faint yellow and running below the Great Wall. Many non-Han tribes, settlements, and ethnic groups are indicated in their proper locales.

In addition to these natural features, also depicted are outlying foreign regions and nations, bordering China or accessible by water. These are rendered comparatively small in contrast to the provinces of Ming China itself. These include modern Tibet and Xinjiang (Xifan 西蕃), Joseon Korea, Japan (Ribenguo 日本国), what is now Vietnam (indicated both as Annan 安南 and Jiaozhi 交趾), Thailand (“Siam”, Xianluoguo 暹羅国), the Chenla kingdom (Zhenlaguo 真臘国), and modern-day Hainan (Qiongzhou 瓊州). (It is noteworthy that the character used for “country”, guo , is a pre-modern simplified form.) Also included is the Xiaoliuqiu 小琉球 island, just off the southern coast of Taiwan. However, Taiwan is not depicted, even though it was well-known to and settled by the Ming Chinese. This is also the case in other maps of the period.

Far off islands in the southern and eastern seas or circled regions in the west and north are marked in minimal detail. The Liuqiu kingdom (Liuqiuguo 琉球国), for example, refers to unspecified islands in the East China Sea, though the name is currently used for the Ryukyu Islands. The “Kingdom of pierced stomachs” (Chuanweiguo 穿胃国), “Kingdom of large men” (Darenguo 大人国), and “Kingdom of little men” (Xiaorenguo 小人国) belong to this category. Most interesting among these, perhaps, is the country is the far southeast, Nürenguo 女人国, “Kingdom of women”. Some scholars believe this refers to the uncharted but rumoured areas of Northern Australia, which many Ming Chinese presumed to operate a matriarchal society. Interestingly, in the territories to the west there are circled spaces that have been left blank, anticipating unknown lands there whose names might be added.


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