By PURCHAS, Samuel, 1625 

The Map of China

Asia China
  • Author: PURCHAS, Samuel
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Printed by William Stansby for Henrie Fetherstone, and are to be sold at his shop in Pauls Church-yard at the signe of the Rose
  • Publication date: 1625 [but 1626].
  • Physical description: Engraved map
  • Inventory reference: 3466


A rare and important map of China after one by an unknown author brought to England by a Captain Saris from Bantam in modern Indonesia.

The original was roughly four by five feet, with a map a yard square in the centre surrounded by text. It is possible this original was the 1593 Cao Map, which survives in one example. Purchas excised the commentary on China’s government and culture, but kept the Chinese characters in the title (some of which have been transcribed incorrectly) and the symbols for cities and towns (’rounds’ and squares’). He inserted the province names from Jesuit writings, possibly the first time the province boundaries had been shown on a European map. Korea is shown as an overlarge peninsula to the south. The inset images of a man and a woman were an addition by Purchas, drawing on traveller accounts of China. To the left is Matteo Ricci, the Jesuit missionary who was the founder of the first Catholic mission in China.

From Purchas his Pilgrimes’, a set of travel accounts collected by Samuel Purchas (c.1577–1626), a clergyman and writer. Purchas began work on his collection in 1611. He bought the manuscripts of Richard Hakluyt and added his own to form a collection of over 1,200 separate narratives of explorations in every part of the world, both ancient and modern. The first two volumes are mainly devoted to travels in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The third volume largely treats northern explorations and America. The fourth volume is almost entirely devoted to America. The fifth volume, Pilgrimage’, is a supplement to all of the preceding parts, and properly completes a set of Purchas’ Pilgrimes to form a complete set of … one of the fullest and most important collections of early voyages and travels in the English language” (Sabin).