Map of the West Lake (Hangzhou)
By WENG DACHENG 翁大澂, 1873
Xizihu Tu 西子湖圖 (Map of the West Lake).
- Author: WENG DACHENG 翁大澂
- Publication place: Hangzhou 杭州
- Publication date: 1873.
- Physical description: Hand-coloured bird’s-eye view of the West Lake, Hangzhou, with an inscription of Qian Yuanpei, towards top, signed and sealed at bottom left.
- Dimensions: 620 by 1110mm. (24.5 by 43.75 inches).
- Inventory reference: 15001
Conceived in 1873 under the reign of Emperor Tongzhi 同治 (1856–1875, r. 1861- 1875), the map depicts a bird’s-eye view of the West Lake in Hangzhou. Renowned mountains and sites are accurately identified and marked, the names of which are widely recognisable today, including Bei Gao Feng 北高峰 (North peak),Yuegui Feng 月桂峰 (Yuegui peak), Nan Gao Feng 南高峰 (South peak), and Yuhuang Feng 玉皇峰 (Yuhuang peak), and Santan Yin Yue 三潭印月, Huagang Guan Yu 花港观鱼, Leifeng Xizhao 雷峰夕照, and Liulang Wen Ying 柳浪闻莺. Pagodas, bridges, and temples are also meticulously depicted using variations of ink tones and touches of red ink, to signify the prominent places.
Inscription at the top right by Qian Yuanpei 钱元涪 (date unknown), a descendent of 钱大昭 (1744–1813), a prominent scholar of the school of Han Learning, the most influential political party in the Qing dynasty. It describes an incident after Weng Dacheng had read Liang Wen Zhuanggong’s diary of West Lake, where he strolled through the mountains, while drinking wine and singing along the way.
“昔梁文莊公纂《西湖志》，以名勝名景弁诸简端，固已无美不具矣。平江翁君静涵假仿其意，凡四阅寒暑乃成是图。其大致則取之於寶所塔，而一邱一 壑，靡不棋布星羅，盖较梁本尤賅偹焉。香山云未能抛得杭州去，一半勾留是 此湖，苟得是图而卧游之尚，何衿上酒痕之感哉。同治癸酉秋七月，嘉定钱元涪識。“
Inscription at bottom left gives author’s name Wumen Weng Dacheng Jinghan Shi 吴门翁大澄静涵氏, date Tongzhi Guiyou Runyue 同治癸酉闰月 and the place where the map was painted Xileng Yu 西泠寓.
The West Lake has influenced poets and painters throughout Chinese history for its natural beauty and historic relics, and it has also been among the most important sources of inspiration for Chinese garden designers. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, described as having “influenced garden design in the rest of China as well as Japan and Korea over the centuries” and reflecting “an idealized fusion between humans and nature”.