“Can Lost Maps Speak? Toward a Cultural History of Map Reading in Medieval China”

Despite the fact that virtually no Chinese maps have survived from the first millennium, it is nonetheless possible to reconstruct a rich context associated with their production, use and perception from a variety of written sources. Three cases from the Tang dynasty (618–907 ce) are presented in this article in which the characteristics of the missing maps emerge through their associated texts, which have outlasted them. These examples include two documents that once accompanied maps presented to the emperor and an anecdote that refers to a map of the remote southern frontier. They demonstrate that the maps were designed not only to encapsulate imperial territory but also to serve as guideposts for aspirational travel. They were also perceived by their users as invitations to experiences both desirable and undesirable.

The abstract above is courtesy of Taylor & Francis.