The Politics of Ancient Maps

For an adventurer or a seafarer, maps inform them about the way or different paths which could lead to their destination. Maps have been a means for direction, but there is a subtle assertion behind the method cartographers draw out their maps.

For example, there are ancient East Asian maps which depict China at the center of the world. Buddhist missionaries who traveled to China later would show them intricate maps called the Jambudvipa which paved the way for Buddhism to become accepted and integrated into Chinese culture.

Due to the detailed geographical information and the sophistication of Buddhist thought, the Chinese became aware that there was a civilization that was on a par if not more technologically advanced and philosophically developed. From these examples, we can see how worldviews seep into a cartographer's perspective on how maps must be drawn.

Nowadays, with satellite and GPS technology, it's much easier for anyone to access accurate geographical information. Still, there are cases such as China's claim over territories in the waters of Southeast Asia in which they argue that they have ancient documents proving dominion over those lands.

Whatever the case may be, maps are sources of information, and in this information era, whoever possesses authority over the sources of information has the power.

(Image credit: Zhu Xiling/Wikimedia Commons)

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Translate the Chinese name for China into English and you get central or centre country. (And as we all know, rainbows are emanations of the great oyster that lives in the ocean that surrounds our world.)
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It's always amazed me how anyone could possibly draw out a map and display the layout of land and mountains and bodies of water without viewing such from high up in the air.
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