The Dictionary Project, Volume X: Chinese Empire

The Dictionary Project is a post-a-day exploration of The Century Dictionary and Cylopedia, a twelve-volume set printed in New York in 1901. The Project runs from October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015, and matches volume numbers to calendar months. Volume X is The Atlas, and today is Day 24.

Speaking of ancient civilizations, as we have for the last few days, here’s another one, and another one I didn’t know was considered an empire: China!

1897 Map of the Chinese Empire

Wikipedia’s page on the History of China includes this fantastic GIF showing the territories of various dynasties, stretching back hundreds of years BCE, and the modern configuration is much the same as that of the Qing dynasty in 1892, with the exclusion of Mongolia, which is independent from China now. Tibet, that GIF map makes clear, was independent, too, until the Yuan dynasty in the 1200s, independent again during the Ming dynasty, and occupied again during the Qing dynasty. No wonder they’re unhappy about that.

The area called East Turkestan here seems to be one of the areas on Google maps marked with a dotted line to indicate dispute over whose country it’s part of. Interestingly, Google maps doesn’t even name some of these areas; perhaps there’s no agreement even on that much.

The old colonial spellings for places like Beijing (Peking) and Tianjin (Tientin) are in use here, and Hongkong (one word) is shaded a different colour to underline its “British” status. I wonder when mapmakers started spelling “Kau-lung” as “Kowloon”? I’m surprised it’s not spelled that way here, actually.

Endearingly, today’s size comparator has eschewed Kansas for the state of Pennsylvania. Because of course everyone can visualize that. Bless.

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