A rare woodblock map of Canton published as a fan.
[Canton : Ch’uan Chi (?), circa 1870]. Woodblock map of the city of Canton, 300 x 450 mm (opened), hand painted bamboo covers; a few paper reinforcements, otherwise fine condition.
A remarkable survivor that creates the illusion of having the city of Canton in the palm of the hand.
From the eighteenth century onwards, Cantonese artisans produced fans for export to Europe as “China trade” items. Usually made of scented wood or ivory, they were generally embellished with hand painted Oriental scenes and views.
The title “The Complete Map of the Capital of Canton” appears at the top right of this example. The centre of the map depicts the inner city surrounded by a wall. The southern section of the city includes an additional perimeter wall. The defensive area is strategically located on the northern edge, and comprises a watch tower named “Five Floors Tall”. These “Floors” are named: Perpetual Peace; Old Settlement; Victory in the West; Victory in the East, and Department of Gunpowder. There are many temples, government agencies and cultural institutions in the inner city. The southern strip is mainly the residential area. A river flows from the east down through the south, along which are located (in sequential order) a pass, a fort on a ship, an arms factory and two further forts. Among the place names indicated are: Well of Flowing Water; Street of Lotus View; Lantern Lane; Gold Accruing Lane; Silver Accruing Lane, and Lane of Blessings and Longevity. Near the cultural institutions, one encounters Dragon-Hidden Street and Phoenix-Singing Lane (once a person had passed the official examinations, their future was considered to soar). The Filialty Promotion Temple is located in the northwest. Lastly, the Temple of Eunuchs is located in the northeast of the city.
For a similar example, made in Canton around 1870 by Ch’uan Chi, see Neville John Irons, Fans of Imperial China (Hong Kong, 1982, pl. 44, p.146)