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CHINA – BEIJING – BOXER REBELLION: 京城各國暂分界址全图 [Jing cheng ge guo zan fen jie zhi quan tu]

5,500.00

[Complete Map of Various Foreign Countries’ Temporarily Divided Territory Boundaries within the City of Beijing.]

[China, likely Beijing, no publisher, 1900].

 

A very rare, attractive and intriguing map, capturing Beijing during the Boxer Rebellion (1899 – 1901), when ‘Zongli Yamen’ (Legation Quarter) of the Old City was besieged by ultra-nationalist rebels, only for the barricade to be lifted by the ‘Eight-Nation Alliance’ of major foreign powers; unlike most of the maps of rebellion-era Beijing (which were made by Westerners), the present map was issued entirely in Chinese for a local audience; the elegant woodcut shows the scene in the immediate wake of the siege when the Alliance    occupied the walled Forbidden City, as well as the adjacent government and diplomatic quarters; it employs colourcoding and annotations to distinguish the zones variously occupied by British, French, German, Russian, Japanese and U.S. forces; interestingly, the present example of the map features contemporary manuscript additions in Italian, indicating that the map was likely acquired during the rebellion by a member of the Italian Legation in Beijing (#70658).    

 

Woodcut on rice paper with original hand colour, contemporary mss. additions in pencil in the Italian language, contemporarily mounted upon linen with giltwood rollers (Good, fading to some of the colouring, some small stains, light even toning, tiny hole to British flag, slight fraying to blank side margins), 60 x 54.5 cm (23.5 x 21.5 inches), plus, the rollers.

Additional information

1 in stock

Description

The Boxer Rebellion (October 18, 1899 – September 7, 1901) was a revolt against the Chinese Imperial Government mounted by a secretive alliance of village leaders from the northern part of the country, the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists, who had the Empress Dowager Cixi as their figurehead.  The “Boxers” were virulently against the presence of foreigners in China, and during what was known as the Siege of the International Legations (June 20 to August 14, 1900), for 55 days they invested the Zongli Yamen, the quarter of Beijing that was home to foreign embassies, businesses and compounds.

 

The standoff ended only when an army of 20,000 troops of the ‘Eight-Nation Alliance’ (Austria-Hungary, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States) invaded Beijing.  The Alliance forces shored up their control of the Zongli Yamen, while going on to temporarily occupy the Forbidden City.  They then used Beijing as a base for military campaigns across Northern China to finish off the Boxers, a task which would be accomplished by September 1901.

 

Many maps of Boxer Rebellion-era Beijing were made by Westerners, but very few were created locally for the Chinese audience.  Thus, the present map, printed anonymously in Beijing, being entirely Chinese in both style and text, is quite special.

 

The hand-coloured woodcut map, mounted in scroll form on contemporary cloth with giltwood rollers, embraces all traditional Beijing proper.  The city is comprised of two walled general sections, with the ‘Tartar City’, occupying the upper part and the ‘Chinese City’ making up the lower section.  The Tartar City incudes the Zongli Yamen (Legation Quarter), in the bottom centre-right, while the Imperial compound of the ‘Forbidden City occupies the centre.

 

The map is extremely detailed, with walls, towers and gates depicted pictographically, while labelling all streets and laneways, as well as major edifies and greenspaces (ponds, parks, etc.), with many traditional courtyard residences depicted.  The map is an excellent record of a bygone Beijing, as many of these features beyond the Forbidden City have since been destroyed by modern development.

 

Relevant to the Boxer Rebellion and the ‘Eight-Nation Alliance’ occupation of Beijing, the flags of the six leading occupiers are labeled at the top of the composition, being Japan, Italy, Germany, Russia, France, and Great Britain.  The map employs colour-coding (albeit faded) to depict the zones of occupation of the various powers within the Tatar City and the Forbidden City, which are divided by bold red lines.  Britain (Yellow) holds the lower left area and the centre of Forbidden City; French (Green) occupies the upper left sectors; the United States holds the northern portions; Germany (pink) has the lower areas; while Japan holds territory to the left of Forbidden City.

The detailed explanatory text, that frames the flags at the top, describes which major Chinese government buildings are occupied by the respective powers.  Japan controls the Imperial Palace and two other key edifices; Russia occupies the Cabinet Office, Finance and Culture ministries as well as the Imperial hospital and the Observatory; Britain controls the Temple of Heaven, the War Ministry and the imperial warehouse; France holds the Jing Mountain; the United States holds the Agriculture Ministry.

Interestingly, the present example of the map features some contemporary annotations in pencil, being Italian translations of some of the Chinese text, including of the “Città Imperiale” [Imperial City / Forbidden City]; “Città Tartara” [Tartar City]; as well as the names the countries whose flags adorn the map.  These additions indicate that the map was likely acquired during the Boxer Rebellion by a member of the Italian Legation in Beijing.

All considered, the map is a very attractive and academically valuable record of Beijing during a critical historical juncture.

A Note on Rarity

 

The map is very rare.  We can trace only two institutional examples, held by the Library of Congress and the National Museum of China (Beijing).  Moreover, we can only find sales records for 2 other examples, one of which was sold at Christie’s London in 2020 and another which was offered by an American dealer some time ago.

 

References: Library of Congress: G7824.B4S5 1900 .J5.