KOREAN ATLAS. [Korea: mid 19th-century].
Manuscript atlas, text in Chinese, 12 folding manuscript maps in black ink and coloured washes on thin paper laid down on thicker paper, the maps consisting of the World, China, Japan, Ryukyu Islands and the 8 provinces of Korea (each map 606 x 366mm), marking rivers, mountain ranges, towns and administrative centres, each map numbered in upper margin, annotations in Korean on versos (occasional wormholes). Original slipcase of reused oiled paper, with inscriptions and paper labels (lightly worn).
A fascinating and decorative Korean manuscript atlas, probably made for an official's library. The order and stylistic elements of the maps follow the usual tradition, opening with the world map, the Ch'onhado ('map of all under heaven'), followed by the map of China (Chunggukto), with its anachronistic delineation of provinces and capitals as organised by the Ming dynasty, and of China's main features, the Great Wall, Yellow and Yangtze rivers and mountain ranges. The maps of the Japanese archipelago and the Ryukyus are followed by maps of the eight Korean provinces. The provincial maps follow the tradition of Chong Sanggi, who produced maps of all the provinces on a unified scale in the 18th century, enabling them to be viewed separately or combined to form one map of the whole of Korea. The atlas demonstrates the geomantic conception of landscape in Korean culture - great emphasis is given to Mount Paektu, shown with its 'pond of heaven', believed to be the source of all energy which emanates through all of Korea's mountain ranges, and to the Diamond Mountains (Kumgang san), representing its 10,000 peaks of broken granite in various colours.