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Gangnido map (1402)
Korean name
Hangul 혼일강리역대국도지도
Hanja 混一疆理歷代國都之圖
Revised Romanization Honil Gangni Yeokdae Gukdo Jido
McCune–Reischauer Honil-Kangni Yŏktae Kukto Chido
Short name
Hangul 강리도
Hanja 疆理圖
Revised Romanization Gangnido
McCune–Reischauer Kangnido

The Honil Gangni Yeokdae Gukdo Jido ("Map of Integrated Lands and Regions of Historical Countries and Capitals"[1], short name Gangnido (Kangnido)) is a map of the world made in Korea in 1402, the second year of the reign of Taejong of Joseon. It is 158.5 cm by 168.0 cm, painted on silk.

The map was created under the supervision of two high Korean officials, Gim Sahyeong (김사형:金士衡) and Yi Hoe (이회:李撓), and the Confucian scholar Gwon Geun (권근:權近), as part of a cultural project of the newly founded Joseon Dynasty.[2]

It is the second oldest surviving world map from East Asia, after the similar Chinese Da Ming Hun Yi Tu, part of a tradition begun in the 1320s when geographical information about Western countries became available via Islamic geographers in the Mongol empire.[3] It depicts the general form of the Old World, from Africa and Europe in the west to Japan in the east. Although, overall, it is less geographically accurate than its Chinese cousin, most obviously in the depiction of rivers and small islands, it does feature some improvements (particularly the depictions of Korea and Japan, and a less cramped version of Africa).



From its beginning, the Joseon Dynasty court was very interested in cartography. At this time, Joseon needed comprehensive maps for the reform of administrative districts and a move of the capital. It was also pursuing a restoration of its northern border and relocation of its population, as well as responding to coastal raids by Japanese pirates. At least since Unified Silla and Goryeo periods, Korea was actively trading with Arab nations.

In addition to practical administrative concerns, mapmaking served to strengthen the national prestige and royal power. Joseon sent many missions to various nations to collect their maps. The highest levels of the bureaucracy participated in map production. It has been suggested that, despite showing most of the rest of the world, the Korean officials who produced the map were less interested in portraying current images of neighboring Asian countries than in presenting an up-to-date image of Korea itself.[1]


Only two copies of the map are known, and both have been preserved in Japan.

The map currently in Ryūkoku University (hereafter, Ryūkoku map) has gathered scholarly attention since the early 20th century. It is 158 cm by 163 cm, painted on silk. It is presumed that the Ryūkoku map was copied in Korea but it is not clear when the copy was brought to Japan. One claims that it was purchased by Ōtani Kōzui and others assume that it was obtained during the invasion of Korea (1592-1598) and given to the West Honganji temple by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It may itself be a copy of the 1402 original, with revisions to about 1485.[1]

The later Honkōji version of the map.

Another map (Honkōji map) was discovered in the Honkōji temple of Shimabara, Nagasaki in 1988. It is 220 cm by 280 cm, much larger than the Ryūkoku map. It looks as if the Honkōji map was copied in Japan during the Edo period.

There are two copies of maps in Japan that are related to the map. One (Honmyōji map) housed in the Honmyōji temple of Kumamoto is known as the "Map of the Great Ming" (大明國地圖) and the other (Tenri map) in Tenri University is called by a similar name (大明國圖). They are considered to be later adaptations of the original. The most important change is that place names of China are updated to those of the Ming Dynasty while the original showed administrative divisions of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty.

Based on a legend of the temple, it has been believed naively that the Honmyōji map was given to Katō Kiyomasa by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in preparation for the Korean campaigns. However, the Seonjo Sillok of Korea reports that in 1593 the son of a Korean official who had surrendered to Katō copied and offered map(s) of China and Korea to him. This may refer to the extant Honmyōji map.

In the Kyujanggak Library of Seoul National University there is a modern Korean hand copy done during the 1980s, considered highly researched and beautifully executed.[4]


According to Gwon Geun's Yangchonjip and the nearly identical preface on the Ryukoku copy of the map, Left Minister Gim Sahyeong and Right Minister Yi Mu (이무:李茂, 1355-1409), in 1402 made a comparative study of two earlier Chinese maps: 聲教廣被圖 by Li Zemin (李澤民) produced around 1330 and 混一疆理圖 by Qing Jun (清浚) produced around 1370, both maps now lost. The two men ordered Yi Hoe, an orderly, to collate and combine the maps into one. Yi supplemented many gaps and omissions on Li's map with Korea's own map, and added a map of Japan, making an entirely new map.[5]

Gim had returned from a trip to China in the summer of 1399, probably bringing the two Chinese maps with him, and both ministers had just completed reporting on land surveys of Korea's northern frontiers to the royal court.[5]

The Ryūkoku and Honkōji maps contain Gwon Geun's colophon at the bottom. It is also recorded in his anthology named Yangchon Seonsaeng Munjip (陽村先生文集). According to Gwon, the map was based on the following four maps:

  • the world map named Shengjiao Guangbei Tu (聲教廣被圖) by Li Zemin
  • the historical map of China named Hunyi Jiangli Tu (混一疆理圖) by Qing Jun
  • an unnamed map of Korea
  • an unnamed map of Japan

In the fourth year of the Jianwen era (1402), Gim Sahyeong and Yi Mu, and later Yi Hoe, analyzed the two Chinese maps and combined these two maps into a single map. Since Li Zemin's map had problems, they added the enlarged Korea, and also appended a map of Japan.

Map of Korea

Gwon Geun wrote that Li Zemin's map had many gaps and omissions concerning Korea. It is not clear how Korea was depicted on Li's map since Korea is out of the range of the extant copy (southern half of the original). The modified version of Qing Jun's map provides a relatively proper shape of Korea though place names presented there are those of the preceding Goryeo Dynasty.

Although Gwon Geun did not clarify which map was utilized for Korea, it is usually identified as Yi Hoe's Paldodo (八道圖). But the original condition of the Korean portion is unclear because even the oldest Ryūkoku map reflects the administrative situation as late as around 1470.

Note that, according to Gwon Geun, Korea was intentionally oversized (for practical reasons).

Map of Japan

The two original Chinese maps portray Japan as a set of three islands that lie from east to west. They would be influenced by the legend of Xu Fu. According to the Records of the Grand Historian, Xu Fu claimed that there were three divine mountains in the sea and went to one of the mountain-islands, which were later believed to be Japan.

Japan is shown in better shape on the Ryūkoku map than on traditional Chinese maps, but is rotated by 90 degrees. This drew attention from scholars and some even associated with the controversy over the location of Yamataikoku. But the other three copies suggest that it is merely exceptional.

Since information on Japan differs considerably among the four copies, the original condition is unreconstructible. The Honkōji map is close to maps in the Haedong Jegukgi (Korean official Sin Sukju, 1471), suggesting that information was regularly updated.

The original source map which Gwon Geun did not cite either is usually identified as the one obtained in Japan in 1401 by Bak Donji (박돈지:朴敦之), based on an article of the Sejong Sillok (the 10th month of 1438). However, this article is obviously wrong because Bak stayed in Japan from 1397 to 1399 as an envoy to the Ōuchi family but could never be there in 1401.[3]


Details of Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

The map depicts the general form of the Old World, from Africa and Europe in the west to Japan in the east although the western portion is much smaller than its actual size. It contains the cartographic knowledge of Afro-Eurasia that cannot be found in the east in the pre-Mongol period. Place names presented on the map suggest that the western portion of the map reflects roughly the situation of the early 14th century.[6] In the East, geographic information about the west was not updated in the post-Mongol period unless Europeans such as Matteo Ricci brought Western knowledge.

Place names based on traditional Chinese knowledge and Islamic knowledge coexist separately. Their boundary line can be drawn from Besh Baliq to Delhi. Names based on the former were placed to the north and east of Besh Baliq even if they are actually located to the west. For example, the Talas River, which was important for the Tang Dynasty was placed to the northeast of Besh Baliq although its actual direction is northwest. Similarly, India and Tibet are based on traditional Chinese knowledge, mainly gained by Buddhist pilgrimage up to the Tang Dynasty. To the west of the "old" India, contemporary place names of India such as Delhi, Badaun and Duwayjir∼Duwayqir (Persianized form of Devagiri) are shown. This suggests that information was acquired via the Ilkhanate.

Western Turkestan, Persia, Arabia, Egypt and Anatolia are quite clearly delineated. These areas are depicted in great detail while place names are sparsely distributed in northwestern Eurasia. They correspond to the territories of Ilkhanate and the rival Golden Horde respectively, reinforcing Ilkhanate as the main source of information.

There are about 35 African place names. The knowledge of the contour of Africa predates the European explorations of Vasco da Gama. In particular, the southern tip of Africa is quite clearly depicted, as well as a river which may correspond to the Orange River in Southern Africa. To the north of the African continent, beyond the unexplored "black" central mass, a pagoda is represented for the lighthouse of Alexandria, and the Arab word "Misr" for Cairo (al-Qāhira) and Mogadishu (Maqdashaw) are shown among others. The Mediterranean forms a clear shape but is not blackened unlike other sea areas. The Maghreb and the Iberian peninsula are depicted in detail while Genoa and Venice are omitted. There are over 100 names for the European countries alone,[7] including "Alumangia" for the Latin word Alemania (Germany).

Chinese exploration

Some have used this map as evidence of early global exploration by China. China began to explore the territories to the west from the embassy of Zhang Qian in 126 BCE. Various countries were thus identified, such as K'ang-chü (Sogdiana), Dayuan (in Ferghana), An-shih (Parthia) and Daqin (the Roman empire). The Buddhist monk Faxian was the first Chinese to sail into the Indian Ocean in the beginning of the 5th century AD, visiting India and Sri Lanka by ship. Afterwards, China engaged heavily in sea travel, especially following the expansion of Islam on the continent in the 8th century. The Tang Dynasty writer Duan Chengshi, along with other writers, wrote detailed descriptions of Africa, its coastal commerce, and slave trade. Wang Dayuan was the first Chinese ship captain to sail into the Mediterranean Sea (by Mamluk Egypt) and as far as Morocco in North Africa during the 14th century.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Kenneth R. Robinson Choson Korea in the Ryukoku Kangnido in Imago Mundi, Vol. 59 No. 2 (June 2007) pp. 177-192, via Ingenta Connect
  2. ^ Angelo Cattaneo Europe on late Medieval and early Renaissance world maps, International BIMCC Conference (Nov 2007)
  3. ^ a b Miya Noriko 宮紀子, "Kon'itsu Kyōri Rekidai Kokuto no Zu" he no michi 「混一疆理歴代国都之図」への道, Mongoru jidai no shuppan bunka モンゴル時代の出版文化 (2006) pp. 487-651
  4. ^ Gari Ledyard message in Korean Studies mailing list 2006-04-25, via Koreaweb
  5. ^ a b Gari Ledyard The Kangnido: A Korean World Map, 1402, in Jay A. Levenson, ed. Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration, Yale University Press (1991) ISBN 0-300-05167-0, via Google Books
  6. ^ Sugiyama Masaaki 杉山正明 Tōzai no sekaizu ga kataru jinrui saisho no daichihei 東西の世界図が語る人類最初の大地平, Daichi no shōzō 大地の肖像 (2007) pp. 54-83
  7. ^ Peter Jackson, "The Mongols and the West", Pearson Education Limited (2005) ISBN 0582368960, p.330

Further reading

External links

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