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Dutch Map of Asia

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posted by alias lebain on Friday 19th of October 2007 03:59:02 PM

Dutch Map of Asia: How is the Western representation of Asia different from Asia’s representation of itself? This map was made by the Dutch sometime during the 1600’s-1700’s. This map looks different from its contemporaries produced in Asia. What do these differences reveal? This Dutch map of Asia differs from Asian maps of Asia, revealing a different purpose and perspective. Like the maps of the collection produced in Asia, this map colorful, has pictures of certain topographic features drawn on it, and emphasizes the sea routes used in trade. Unlike the Asia maps, this map is written in the Roman alphabet whereas India maps are written in Sanskrit and Chinese (and even some Japanese) maps are written in Chinese. This difference clearly shows who the intended readers of each map were. Each country’s map is logically written in the language its people can read. The European maps have longitude and latitude lines whereas the Asian maps don’t, revealing this understanding of distance/location/mapping originated in Europe. This map while old has no tears or folds, suggesting it was in an atlas. European maps were compiled in atlases whereas Asian maps were used as travel maps. What is remarkable about this specific map though is the pictures. On the map, along the border are pictures, I assume depicting different Asian peoples. None of the other maps in the collection of maps of Asia have such pictures. The Asian maps have topographic markings, such as mountains and lakes and even stuppas drawn on but no cartoon like images of people. I believe this has something to do with the purpose of this map. As suggested by the lack of folds this map was probably in an atlas. I think it was used more as a reference or artistic piece rather than for navigational purposes like the maps produced in Asia. A sailor would not care about pretty pictures along the border of a map, but a map used as reference by people not going on the open seas might sell better if it had art work on it. The purpose of this Dutch map is clearly different than the Asian produced maps. I think these differences suggest a different perspective between the European and Asian idea of maps. In Asia, maps were used for navigational purposes. But in Europe, it seems maps were used more for academic reference—distance between countries, size (at the time inaccurate) of countries, and to understand political boundaries. The European version of maps has prevailed and is now the standard style of maps today in most parts of the world. But if you were traveling through Asia you’d probably prefer to have that ancient Asian map that while devoid of political boundaries showed you the physical ones, so you could actually find your way.

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  • Published 01.29.23
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