114 woodcut maps (mostly double-page or longer), 18 full-page woodcuts of ships, one full-page image of an anchor, & about 63 pages of woodcut images of cannons and guns, armor, spears, shields, explosives, soldiers on horses shooting arrows, etc. 13 juan in 14 vols. 8vo, early wrappers, new stitching. Loudong: several Prefaces dated 1693.
The best edition from the view of its contents (see Li Zhizhong’s article, cited below), and very rare, of this landmark work on Chinese geography and coastal defenses, written during a crisis of large-scale piracy in southeastern China. This work, first published ca. 1562, contains the earliest collection of maps of China’s entire coastline. The Chouhai tubian of Zheng (1503-70) had a great influence on coastal defense and is an important source on the history of Japanese piracy along the Chinese coast. It also marks a turning point in geographic studies in China.
Hu Zongxian (1511-65), Supreme Commander in the struggle against the Japanese pirates and other insurgents, hired Zheng as a secretary in the spring of 1560, having read a strategic atlas of coastal China that Zheng had recently written. The son of a merchant who in turn hailed from a lettered family, Zheng had once been a student at the Imperial University in Beijing. He made a living as a teacher but had turned his attention to coastal defense as thousands of people in cities from the Yangzi valley to the far south were being killed in battles with the pirates. In 1554, during a siege of his hometown, Zheng himself entered the contested area in search of first-hand information on the enemy’s tactics and weaponry.
”The scope of the Chouhai tubian [we have silently converted to Pinyin throughout] initially was fairly small. Zheng planned to compile only a handbook of wokou (Japanese pirates) activities which he thought might help the coastal officials in dealing with the pirates. Later, with the sponsorship of Hu Zongxian, it was greatly enlarged and became an encyclopedic reference book on coastal affairs. It totals 13 juan and is divided into eight parts: part I has maps of the eastern world and of the offshore islands along the Chinese coast; part II includes a history of Sino-Japanese relations from the earliest times to late Ming, including a table of Japanese relations with China, and a short history and map of Japan; part III has maps of Chinese coastal areas from the Liaotung Peninsula to Guangdong and the areas which suffered from the wokou raids, together with an account of the distribution of Chinese troops along the coastal areas during the Ming; part IV contains a chronological table of the wokou raids in this same region; part V has an account of the routes used by the wokou; Part VI contains an account of the methods of the Ming forces under the command of Hu Zongxian used in defeating the pirates; part VII gives a list of those Chinese officers and civilians who lost their lives in the struggle against the wokou; part VIII contains a history of the way the Ming government dealt with the pirates, including an illustrated account of the vessels and weapons used by both sides…
“The Chouhai tubian has been called one of the most scholarly works in its field…Under the sponsorship of Hu Zongxian, Zheng enjoyed the privilege of interviewing the captured Japanese pirates directly. In addition, he was also in a position to gain access to government documents and archives, including the confidential reports by the men commissioned to go to Japan to ask the Japanese government to curb the pirates. Consequently he received first hand materials not usually obtainable…
“The significance of the Chouhai tubian is not alone because of its contents. It marks a turning point in geographic studies in China. Prior to the Ming period, China’s major threats came from the north. Geographers had hitherto emphasized the northern frontier areas, and paid relatively little attention to other sections of the country. Only after the publication of the Chouhai tubian did they shift, or at least to include the coastal areas. It also stimulated other geographical studies.”–Goodrich & Fang, Dictionary of Ming Biography 1368-1644, Vol. I, pp. 206-07 (& see the whole article for this interesting man and his other writings).
Several editions of the Illustrated Compilation were published. The first edition, published sometime after 1561 when Zheng had resigned from his position, was later bowdlerized because Hu, the project’s patron, fell from grace and died in prison. After his posthumous rehabilitation, Hu’s descendants attempted to strengthen his reputation by publishing editions of the Illustrated Compilation that incorrectly presented Hu as the work’s author and excised Zheng’s name. Unfortunately, most copies in circulation belong to these editions, with the result that many bibliographers into the 20th century mistook Hu as the book’s author. Our edition is a deliberate attempt to restore Zheng’s authorship. It is (in trans.) “the latest of the four woodblock editions, but from the point of view of its contents, it is the best edition.”–Li Zhizhong, “Tan Chouhai tubian de zuozhe yu banben” [“A Discussion of the Author and Editions of Chouhai tubian”], Wenwu (1983), no. 7, p. 71.
A fine set. A few volumes with mostly marginal wormholes repaired. With thanks to Prof. Marten Soderblom Saarela of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taiwan.
❧ Peter Perdue, “1557: A Year of Some Significance,” in Asia Inside Out: Changing Times, ed. by Eric Tagliacozzo et al. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015), p. 94.
Item ID: 8471