James Ford Bell Library

Matteo Ricci, Li Zhizao, and Zhang Wentao: World Map of 1602

Click the far right button for full screen viewer

Map Viewer Instructions

About The Ricci Map

Kunyu wanguo quantu, or Map of the Ten Thousand Countries of the Earth, is the oldest surviving map in Chinese to show the Americas. It is a xylograph (wood block print) on six panels of fine native paper (made with bamboo fiber), each panel measuring approximately 1820 x 3650 mm (2 feet by 5.75 feet). Li Zhizao (1565-1630), a Chinese mathematician, astronomer and geographer, was the Chinese cartographer who engraved the map. It was printed by Zhang Wentao of Hangzhou, possibly an official printer of the Ming court.

A Jesuit priest, Matteo Ricci arrived in China in 1583 and, with fellow Jesuit Michele Ruggieri, established the first Christian mission. In 1597, Ricci was named Superior or head of the entire Jesuit missionary effort in China. His world map is a true collaboration between the European scholars of the Jesuit mission and the Chinese scholars and artisans of the imperial court. Vivid descriptions of the continents, praise of the Chinese emperor, lunar charts, and scientific tables documenting the movement of the planets adorn the map, a unique representation of East-West relations in the early 17th-century.

This Example of the 1602 Ricci Map

This example of the 1602 Ricci Map was purchased by the James Ford Bell Trust and has been loaned to the University of Minnesota for the benefit of the James Ford Bell Library. This Ricci map is among six known complete examples of the 1602 printing; this is the only one in the Americas. The six examples: Vatican Apostolic Library Collection I; Japan Kyoto University Collection; collection of Japan Miyagi Prefecture Library; Collection of the Library of the Japanese Cabinet; Paris, France (in private hands); James Ford Bell Trust (formerly in a private collection in Japan). The image of the map appears here courtesy of the James Ford Bell Trust.

Learn More About Matteo Ricci and the Map

  • Who Was Matteo Ricci
  • 17th century Jesuit influence on Chinese maps
  • Chinese Paper Making



  • About this Zoom-Enabled Map Image

    The above image of the Matteo Ricci Map of 1602 was compiled from images of the map's six panels scanned at the Library of Congress. The map panels were scanned at 300 ppi (pixels per inch) and saved in TIFF format. This image was adjusted in Adobe Photoshop and exported to a format used by Zoomify for FlashTM viewers.

    Zoomify Map Viewer Instructions

    Use the controls on the viewer's toolbar below the map to zoom in and out and to pan around the map. Use the minus (-) button (first button on the left) to zoom out, use the sliding scale bar to adjust the zoom level, and use the plus (+) button to zoom in. Use the next four buttons to pan left, up, down, and right respectively. You can also pan by clicking the left mouse button (and holding it down) to move around the map. The inset map displays the portion of map visible in the viewer. The blue box in the inset map can also be moved to change to area of the map being displayed in the viewer. The next to last button resets the view to the original view of the entire map.

    Enabling the Full-Screen Viewer

    This Viewer allows for full screen viewing of the Ricci Map. Simply click on the farthest right button (after the separator line) on the viewer's toolbar below the map. You will now be able to view the map on your monitor's full screen. To exit from full-screen viewing, simply press the "Esc" key.


Portrait of Matteo Ricci, 1610: Portrait of Matteo Ricci by Emmanuel Pereira (born Yu Wen-Hui). Jesuit House, Rome.Portrait of Matteo Ricci, 1610 by Emmanuel Pereira. Jesuit House, Rome.

Born Yu Wen-Hui, Pereira converted to Christianity and then served the Jesuit mission in China as a lay brother. He was trained as an artist by Jesuit Giovanni Nicolao.


The Ricci Map Around the World

Ricci Map at the Library of Congress (video, Chinese with some English)

Global Positioning c. 1600: A Rare World Map

Matteo Ricci, His Map and Music



About the James Ford Bell Trust

The Trust was established by James Ford Bell, founder of the library that bears his name; it conducts its work to benefit the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota. The acquisition of the "Impossible Black Tulip" is the result of a two-year search for an important addition to the collection in keeping with its founder's vision and complementing other major holdings.

Trustees of the James Ford Bell Trust

Dr. Ford W. Bell, President of the American Association of Museums

Diane B. Neimann, noted philanthropic advisor








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