The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Middle Kingdom: The Impossible Black Tulip

Historically, China has been known as "The Middle Kingdom." They believed they were at the center of the earth. In fact, the characters which refers to China in both Chinese and Japanese reflects this: 中国.

A very rare ancient map has turned up. This map is known as The Impossible Black Tulip, due to it's rarity. An excerpt from an article is shown below. To read the who article, please click here.

On this rare map, China is the center of the world

Tuesday, January 12, 2010
(01-12) 09:17 PST WASHINGTON, (AP) --
A rarely seen 400-year-old map that identified Florida as "the Land of Flowers" and put China at the center of the world went on display Tuesday at the Library of Congress.

The map created by Matteo Ricci was the first in Chinese to show the Americas. Ricci, a Jesuit missionary from Italy, was among the first Westerners to live in what is now Beijing in the early 1600s. Known for introducing Western science to China, Ricci created the map in 1602 at the request of Emperor Wanli.

Ricci's map includes pictures and annotations describing different regions of the world. Africa was noted to have the world's highest mountain and longest river. The brief description of North America mentions "humped oxen" or bison, wild horses and a region named "Ka-na-ta."

Several Central and South American places are named, including "Wa-ti-ma-la" (Guatemala), "Yu-ho-t'ang" (Yucatan) and "Chih-Li" (Chile).

Ricci gave a brief description of the discovery of the Americas.

"In olden days, nobody had ever known that there were such places as North and South America or

Magellanica," he wrote, using a label that early mapmakers gave to Australia and Antarctica. "But a hundred years ago, Europeans came sailing in their ships to parts of the sea coast, and so discovered them."

The Ricci map gained the nickname the "Impossible Black Tulip of Cartography" because it was so hard to find.

This map — one of only two in good condition — was purchased by the James Ford Bell Trust in October for $1 million, making it the second most expensive rare map ever sold. The library bought another of the world's rarest maps, the Waldseemuller world map, which was the first to name "America," for $10 million in 2003.



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