A German missionary map of China
Die Apostolischen Vicariate China’s.
- Publication date: 1881.
- Physical description: Manuscript map with original hand colour.
- Dimensions: 571 by 588mm. (22.5 by 23.25 inches).
- Inventory reference: 1967
At the time the map was drawn, Germany did not hold any concessions in China (although they would by 1898), but the Treaty of Tientsin in 1861 had opened up the country to European trade. During the second half of the nineteenth century, under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck, Germany was keen only to challenge Britain’s position in trade with China, with relatively little of the imperial ambition which defined the relations between China and most other European countries. By 1896, the volume of trade between China and Germany was second only to the trade between China and Britain.
This map may have been made by a German missionary to China — a substantial minority of the German population was Roman Catholic. A few decades before this map was made, Catholicism in China was in danger. Laws enacted by a succession of emperors sentenced missionaries to death for spreading Christianity, authorised the sale of converts into slavery, and banned Christian texts. The restrictions on the church were lifted as part of the terms of the Treaty of Tientsin, and missionaries were allowed to return, perhaps allowing this map to be made.