Liu Gang – Map talks without sound – a refutation of the criticisms of his map
Liu Gang – Map talks without sound – a refutation of the criticisms of his map
A map showing that Chinese fleets circumnavigated and charted the globe before the Europeans was unveiled in January of this year. Since then the map has been met with skepticism from some Chinese historians. Several professors even alleged “[This] map was faked by someone in the 20th century”.
Facing the charge of being a fake, the map cannot stand up and plead not guilty. However, it can talk and prove itself as being authentic by showing its colors, landmasses, islands and annotations as depicted on the timeworn paper. The map can also tell us true history and unveil many lost ancient Chinese discoveries and technologies buried deep in the darkness of oblivion.
I. The True year of the map’s creation
The calligraphy on the map records that it was made in 1763. Some academics questioned that the map was from this date, and could be a recent forgery. We subsequently looked at various means to ascertain the right date.
The carbon dating result of Waikato University confirms that the map’s paper was most probably produced during the period from 1730-1810AD or 1640-1690AD, which is the right range for the year in which the map was created. In addition to the scientific dating result, the smell, brittleness and embrowned color of the map paper also affirm that the map is a centuries-old document.
Although no carbon dating has been carried out for the ink on the map, the colors of ink on the map can tell us when the map was painted. The red boxes on the map, using cinnabar, have faded in line with two centuries of ageing (if we put ancient cinnabar on ancient paper in the 20th century the color of cinnabar looks much richer than the red boxes on the map). The sea on the map was painted with the dark green ink commonly used during 17th to 19th century in China, and this color has faded due to centuries of oxidation. There are also many stains, traces of vermin damage and frayed edges on the map.
The map can also be dated by studying painting habits and writing style. The writing habit of the ancient Chinese is quite different from nowadays. They wrote from right to left. In the first half of 20th century the Chinese started to write from left to right. Unlike modern-day Chinese who write from left to right, the ancient Chinese put their first stroke of colored paint on the upper-right part of the paper. Nowadays, the Chinese commonly put the first stroke of color painting on the upper-left part of paper. We can clearly see on the map that the first and second strokes of dark green color painting are both on the upper-right part of the map.
During the period of the Qianlong Emperor (1711-1799AD), the Qing Court required examinees for the civil service to write test papers in a special style of calligraphy named ‘square-like calligraphy’ (“Guan Ge Ti”). Such requirement substantially influenced the fashion of people’s calligraphy in that period. In the second half of the 19th century the latter style of calligraphy went out of fashion and since then this kind of square-like calligraphy has been considered as a ponderous and dull style, and few people adopted this style of calligraphy. It is obvious that the style of calligraphy on the map is the square-like calligraphy (“Guan Ge Ti”).
In summary, the appearance of the map, the colour of its ink, the age of its paper, the way in which it is painted and the style of calligraphy used by the cartographer verify that the year in which the map was created is the year of 1763 as noted by the cartographer on the map.
II. Mapping Style and Characters of the Map
Professor Gong Ying-yan of the Ningbo Institution of Technology, Zhejiang University, suggests that the map’s origins lay in the European world maps of the early 17th Century. Professor Ge Jian-xiong of the History and Geography Research Center, Fudan University further claims “the shape of the map shows that it was born out of Matteo Ricci’s world map”.
Comparing the map with Matteo Ricci’s map as well as with early 17th Century European world maps, we can easily find out the substantial differences between them, particularly in their mapping style and concept.
Artists in the different historical periods painted in different styles. Mapping is the same as painting. The style, concept and layout of world maps drawn by cartographers in the 15th century are substantially different from the European Renaissance world maps (16th to 18th century). First of all, the layout of 15th century world maps aims at showing landmasses; but the layout of European Renaissance world maps aim for the best view of the globe. Secondly, 15th century world maps emphasize on the landmasses and exaggerate the proportion of landmasses on the earth’s surface; whereas later European maps aim to accurately depict both sea and land. Thirdly, the central point or horizontal central line of 15th century world maps are generally located between latitudes of 30 and 40 degrees North; whereas the horizontal central lines of the European Renaissance world maps are all at the Equator which is zero degrees. Finally, 15th century world maps don’t have a projection or longitudes/latitudes; however European Renaissance world maps have both.
The map is a copy of a world chart drawn in 1418 that shows all barbarians under heaven that recognize payment of tributes. Its mapping style, concept and layout completely tally with the other 15th century world maps, such as the de Virga world map, the Andrea Bianco world map, the Fra Mauro world map and the Juan de la Cosa world map. Compared to early 17th Century European world maps, including Matteo Ricci’s world map, the key differences of 1418 map are as follows:
The map has no projection at all; and
The horizontal central line of the map is at around latitude 37 North.
In addition to having the same mapping style and concept as other 15th century world maps, the 1418 map shows many Chinese mapping characteristics and concepts of Taoism that was one of the essential religions in the Ming dynasty. Just as Matteo Ricci said: all countries in drawing their maps place their own country at the centre of the map. With the purpose of avoiding the distortion of geographical position of landmasses and drawing China close to the middle of the map, the original cartographer of the 1418 map depicted his world map with two overlapping circles, so that China was as central as possible on the map. Due to the fact that the two circles are overlapping in South East Asia, the cartographer compendiously depicted landmasses and islands in South East Asia. In order to show China near the middle of the map, the cartographer exaggerated the size of both the Shandong Peninsula and of the Bohai gulf. Furthermore, for the purpose of magnifying the proportion of Chinese land in the world and showing China with the China Eastern Sea in the shape of square, the original cartographer extended the distance between North China and South China. Drawing China in the shape of a square on a map was the mapping tradition and style in Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties. The examples include Hua Yi Tu (1136AD), Yu Ji Tu (1142AD) and Da Ming Hun Yi Tu (1398AD). In Taoism, the square shape symbolizes stability and peace. We can also distinguish many other Taoist concepts on the map. One important example is the ancient Chinese compass depicted in the upper-middle section of the map. There are seven characters above the compass meaning “The Fixed Model for Moving Six United Spaces”. In China, compasses have commonly been used for Feng Shui (the geomantic omen) of Daoism. “Six United Spaces” is a Taoist term for the Universe, (“Six United Spaces” means the unity of the spaces in north, south, east, west, upwards and downwards). The compass and “The Fixed Model for Moving Six United Spaces” indicates that the original cartographer of the 1418 map was a Taoist priest who designed and drew the map based on the principals of Chinese Feng Shui. The Chinese mapping style, concepts and traditions embodied in the 1418 map cannot be found in any world maps drawn by Europeans. Many European world maps were also drawn with two circles, however those two circles link at the Equator and do not have any overlapping part like the 1418 map (20% overlapping). Up to now, no world map has been found in the same style, concept and characteristics as the 1418 map.
Europe’s inaccurate depiction and sparse notation suggest that its origins cannot come from the European world maps of the early 17th Century, which show the contours of landmasses of Europe with greater accuracy and have more detailed notations on the European part than other areas of the world. There are many serious errors on the European part of the 1418 map. The position of the United Kingdom and Ireland are wrong, the Scandinavian Peninsula and the Black Sea are missing, and there are few notations written on this area.
III. Where are the Holes?
Professor Hou Yang-fang of the Geography Institution, Fudan University and other professors wrote several articles to dismiss the 1418 Map as a fake. They claimed that the 1418 map is full of “holes”. Where are those “holes”? And what are the causes of those “holes”?
“Holes” Drilled by a Misunderstanding of History
Mr. Jin Guo-ping and Dr. Geoff Wade at the National University of Singapore pointed out that the “holes” on the 1418 Map are the simplified Chinese character “Yu”. They claimed that the history of simplified Chinese characters is only post-1949, and that the use of the simplified Chinese character “Yu” for “-plus” instead of the full form suggests that it was faked by someone in the 20th century, educated in simplified Chinese characters.
Chinese historians should have a good knowledge of the history of Chinese characters, as it is an important part of Chinese history. Simplified Chinese characters came into existence more than ten centuries ago. Song Huizong, one of the emperors of the Song Dynasty (10th to 13th Century) used the simplified character “Wu” for “nothing” in his poetry instead of the full form. Many scholars in the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty also used simplified characters. There are many Chinese historians that specialize in the study of ancient Chinese simplified characters. For example, Mr. Yu Xin of the Ancient Books Research Institute of Zhejiang University wrote his thesis three years ago in which he analyzes the history of ancient Chinese simplified characters. The purpose of the popularization of simplified Chinese characters in the 1960’s was to unify and popularize Chinese simplified characters, which does not mean that simplified Chinese characters were not used before 1949. There is ample evidence that simplified characters were used pre-1949, and those prove that the allegations of Mr. Jin Guo-ping and Dr. Geoff Wade are incorrect.
Professor Hou Yang-fang deemed that the characters “Xiong Nu” for Hun on the 1418 Map are incorrect Chinese characters. Several historical records contradict this allegation. The inscription on an ancient jade seal dating back to the Warring States period (475-221BC) in Shanghai History Museum has the same character “Xiong Nu” for Hun. “Xiao Xu Ji”, an ancient book printed in the Song Dynasty (960-1279AD) recorded exactly the same Chinese characters of “Xiong Nu” for Hun. These historical records show that the characters “Xiong Nu” for Hun were used a long time before the 1418 Map was drawn. Professor Hou also believes that Hun did not exist in the Ming Dynasty and that the Chinese name of Hun should therefore not appear on Ming maps. “The Selection of Valuable Chinese Ancient Maps” a collection of the ancient Chinese maps records several Ming maps, including “the Illustration of Ancient and Modern Chinese and Barbarians” and “Great United Map of Imperial Ming”, both of them was printed in the late Ming Dynasty. These two maps have notes about the Chinese name Hun, and thus show a hole in Professor Hou’s knowledge about the Ming maps.
Professor Hou has some other misunderstandings about Ming maps, such as the name of “Gao Li” for Korea and the name of “Liu Qiu” for Ryukyu. He claims that Korea changed the name of “Gao Li” to “Chao Xian” in 1392 and accordingly it was impossible to name Korea as ‘Gao Li’ on the 1418 map. I believe that Professor Gong Ying-yan, who is co-author of the book “A Study of Ricci’s World Map”, will not share this view. His book includes a “General Map of Mountains, Seas and Lands” (Shanhai Yudi Quantu), which is a map recorded by several ancient books printed in the early 17th century. On the “General Map of Mountains, Seas and Lands”, the name of Korea is “Gao Li” rather than “Chao Xian”. This record shows that the Chinese cartographers in the early 17th century still used “Gao Li” for Korea. In the view of Professor Hou, the name of “Liu Qiu” should refer to Ryukyu Archipelago but the 1418 map wrongly has this name on Taiwan. In accordance with Ming history, Ryukyu in the Ming Dynasty included the islands around Ryukyu including today’s Taiwan. Therefore, a Ming map labeling Taiwan as “Ryukyu” is not incorrect. The “General Map of Mountains, Seas and Lands” also labeled Ryukyu in the same place as the 1418 map does. Taiwan was distinguished from Ryukyu in the Qing Dynasty.
Professor Hou not only misunderstands Ming maps, but also some aspects of Ming history. He deems that “Nan Zhi Li” and “Bei Zhi Li” had not been named until 1421. However, the records of official “History of Ming” differ from his point of view.
Professor Mao Pei-qi and Professor Zhu Jian-qiu jointly claim that two erroneous characters “Shi Gong” were used for the title of 1418 map instead of “Zhi Gong”, and they strongly assert that in Chinese history nobody used the two characters of “Shi Gong”. These two professors will feel embarrassed if they read an ancient book “Complete Collection of TaoYan” (Taoyan Quanji). This book was printed in the Ming dynasty and used exactly the same two characters “Shi Gong”, which have the same meaning as they do on the 1418 map.
“Holes” Caused by Avoiding Taboos
A poet in the middle of the Qing Dynasty was sentenced to death just for using a single taboo word in his poem. From this case, it is evident that censorship was severe in the Qing dynasty, particularly in the Qianlong reign, in which the map was drawn.
Mo Yi Tong, the cartographer of the map, would have known the importance of avoiding taboos when he drew the map. There are two original descriptions within red boxes on the Chinese part of the map. One says “The Great Land of Imperial Dynasty”, and another says, “This Dynasty is the most important country under heaven, …” Since Mo Yi Tong retained those two original notes on his map, he knew that if the original provincial names of the Ming dynasty on the map were not changed to the names of Qing dynasty, he could be considered by the Qing court to wish to restore the Ming Empire. In order to avoid taboos and replace the administrative regions of the Ming Dynasty with the Qing administrative structure, he revised several original place names, including (but not limited to) changing “Great Ming Sea” to “Great Qing Sea”, replacing “Hu Guang” with “Hu Bei” and “Hu Nan” and adding “An Hui” beside “Nan Zhi Li”. By changing those place names, Mo Yi Tong wanted to show that “Imperial Dynasty” and “the most important country” referred to in those two original descriptions retained by him on the map means the Qing Empire, rather than the Ming Dynasty. It was very common for the cartographers in the Qing Dynasty to take necessary measures in order to avoid taboos when they copied Ming maps.
“Hole” Disclosing A Part of History Remains to be Proved
Professor Gong Ying-yan says in his article that after the Nestorian sect of Christianity in China was harshly attacked and gradually withered in the 8th century, the Chinese name “Jing” for Nestorian was not known by the Chinese until the Stele describing the Spread of the Nestorians in China was discovered in 1625. A book written in 1999 by two Chinese historians, Mr. Lin Renchun and Mr. Xu Xiaowang, reveals that during the Song dynasty (960-1279AD) and the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368AD) many Chinese in the northern part of China were the followers of Nestorius. So far, we only know the Mongolian term used during the Yuan dynasty for Nestorianism, but nobody knows what new Chinese term was used by the northern Chinese to replace “Jing” for Nestorianism in the Song and Yuan dynasties, and there is a strong possibility that the Chinese during those two dynasties, as well as in the era of Zheng He, followed the practice of the 8th century and continued to use “Jing” for Nestorianism.
Another claim by Professor Gong is also related to Nestorianism. He believes that the use of the term “Shang-di” to represent “God” began at the end of the 16th century and prior to this, the correlation between these terms did not exist. Based on this view, he claims that the term “Shang-di” should not be used on a map drawn in 1418. As a Chinese historian, he should know that some ancient books printed prior to the Qin dynasty (pre c.221BC) record the term of “Shang-di”. Lots of historical records indicate that in the 7th and 8th Centuries many Chinese terms in connection with Nestorianism originated from ancient books. For example, the Stele describing the Spread of Nestorians in China recorded more than 1,000 characters, among which more than 360 term’s origins lay in ancient books. Most importantly, we still have not drawn the final conclusion on what exact terms were used by the Chinese for “God” during the period from the 7th century to the end of the 16th century – “God” would most likely have been the key term for Nestorianism and must have been used by the Chinese followers of Nestorius. Therefore, it is subjective and arbitrary for a historian to make his judgment on the map based on a part of history that remains to be uncovered.
After going through the “holes” one by one, we should see where the “holes” really are. It turns out that the “holes” referred to by those historians and professors are actually all in their knowledge rather than in the map.
IV. Proof of 1418 Map
Several professors and historians claim that it is not logical to use the map drawn in 1763 to prove the existence of 1418 map.
In addition to the inscription on the map identifying the map as a copy made in 1763 of an original map drawn in 1418, many other description, as well as landmasses and islands on the map can prove that the cartographer of the map faithfully copied the map drawn in 1418.
Western Missionaries Never Ever Publicize Buddhism or Islam
Nine original descriptions on the map are related to religions. Among those, three notations on Asia and the eastern part of Europe are about Islam only; the one on China says “This Dynasty is the most important country under heaven, most people in this country are Buddhists, and Buddhism is the principal religion, Taoism is the second and there are also people who are Islamic”; another note on China is related to Buddhism only; the note on Korea indicates that the Koreans were Buddhist and Taoist; the note on Japan shows that the Japanese were Buddhist. There is one religious note on the American Continents, which refers to “Palacas”, an ancient religion in Peru. On the entire map there is only one original description about the European religion, and such note is about Nestorianism and is marked in Northern/Eastern Europe.
These nine original descriptions about religions show that when the original map was drawn the Chinese knew that the most popular and influential religions in the world were Buddhism and Islam and that Taoism followed. European religions were not influential at this time and their position was just like “Palacas” in South America. The message given by the map about religion in the world corresponds with medieval beliefs. In the 16th century, Roman Catholicism and Christianity began to expand outside Europe rapidly, especially to America and Asia. In the 18th century (when Mo Yi Tong copied the 1418 map) the most influential religion in the world was Roman Catholicism, which became the largest religious denomination in the American Continents.
Professor Gong claims in his article that “[The map] is in the form of a European map with annotations similar to those of the Western missionaries who came to China.” However, no single vestige of European missionaries can be traced in those religious descriptions. In history, Western missionaries never ever propagandize Buddhism or Islam.
No Reference, No Copy
Mo Yi Tong was a cartographer rather than a navigator. When Mo Yi Tong drew his map, he had to have the reference for his copying. The following analysis will confirm that Mo Yi Tong’s map originated from the 1418 map.
The map shows the contours of Antarctica, which was “discovered” in 1820. But the most astonishing depiction on the map about Antarctica is the Amery Ice Shelf. The first European expeditions to the Amery Ice Shelf of Antarctica took place in 1962. Accordingly, the outline of Amery Ice Shelf should only appear on maps after 1962. However, Mo Yi Tong drew the outline of Amery Ice Shelf on his map 200 years before the “first” expeditions on Amery Ice Shelf;
In the beginning of 1772, Kerguelen-Tremarec, a Breton Captain, was commissioned by King Louis XV of France to discover the continent for France. Kerguelen left Mauritius in January, and sailed through mist, fog and storms to discover the Kerguelan Island on February 12th, 1772. Before Kerguelan Island was “discovered” by Kerguelan, no map should show its geographic position. But Mo Yi Tong was aware of the geographic position of Kerguelan Island 9 years before it was “discovered” by the Europeans;
Captain Cook did his survey on New Zealand in 1769 and 1770. After his survey, the European nations became aware of the islands of New Zealand. Before Captain Cook’s survey, nobody thought that New Zealand were islands, they thought that it was the Western part of a southern continent. But Mo Yi Tong already knew New Zealand as islands 6 years before Captain Cook’s survey;
The cannibalism of Australian aborigines described on Mo Yi Tong’s map was also recorded in European history documents. John Green took the first relevant written record in 1851. How could it be possible for Mo Yi Tong to know about the cannibalism of Australian aborigines 88 years before the first European record being taken if he copied his information from European sources?
Soon after European colonization spread through out the American Continents in the 16th century, all documents relating to local ancient religions were destroyed, and a confidential order was given by the Europeans to ban any study of ancient religions. No information about ancient religions could be disclosed to the public until the order was abolished in the late 19th century. So where did Mo Yi Tong get his information about human sacrifice in Peru and Paracas, the ancient Peruvian religion?
There are also some other fascinating descriptions on the map, such as the descriptions of Eskimos, of cannibals of northwest Canada and of red paint on American Indians. All these details confirm the existence of the original map drawn in 1418. The 1418 map had to be the only source of the references used by Mo Yi Tong to depict those wonderful islands, annotations and the ice shelf on his map.
Would Ancient Cartographers Lie for Today’s Benefit?
Professor Gong says in his article that Mo Yi Tong’s statement on the map about the original annotation is not something that can be believed, and this statement shows that “Mo Yi Tong was deceitful.” Several scholars further assert that if the map is indeed drawn in 1763 it is still possible that Mo Yi Tong forged the map or that someone forged the 1418 map, based on which the 1763 map was copied.
In China, nobody had any interest in the eunuch Zheng He until a scholar published his article about Zheng He’s voyages in 1904. The claim by Mr. Gavin Menzies about Zheng He discovering the world was raised in 2002. Why would the ancient Chinese commit perjury to support a claim raised 100 years later? “Ancient people won’t lie for today’s benefit”. This is a very strong argument made by Mr. Gavin Menzies against Professor Gong’s claim.
Would the Map Be Updated With Ancient Errors and Mapping Styles?
A scholar believes that “[the map] almost begs as if we’re looking at a 17th-century French world map that had been converted”. Professor Gong says, “[the map] reflects the results of the development of European cartography, and particularly the major achievements following European overseas explorations and the development of cartography.”
In addition to many ancient geographic names, the map is full of errors that can be found on 14th and 15th century Chinese and European world maps. For example, the map doesn’t contain the Persian Gulf, which is on neither Da Ming Hun Yi Tu (1389AD) nor Kangnido (1402AD). This error cannot be found in 17th and 18th century European maps. The fact that the map is full of ancient errors and mistakes poses a question to those scholars and professors: in converting a 17th-century French world map reflecting the development of European cartography, would it be possible for Mo Yi Tong to use the ancient errors and mistakes to update his map together with the ancient mapping style and ancient geographic names? The answer should be very simple and direct: This is not a logical assumption.
V. Historical Significance of Zheng He in World History
Mr. Gunnar Thompson, an expert on the New World Discovery says, “[the map] will revolutionize our thinking about 15th century world history.” However, so far only a piece of the 15th century world history has been questioned: who was the first to discover America? The role of Zheng He in world history is in fact far more significant than the discovery of America. The map shows by its very existence a detailed, long term and extensive survey of the world carried out by Zheng He’s seven voyages without disturbing other nations’ cultures and religion. The result of his survey did not only encourage Europeans to discover the New World but it also showed them the actual path to the New World, which would begin the process of transforming the entire world into a global village.
The historical significance of Zheng He in world history is that today’s globalization originated from Zheng He’s seven voyages.