Tae Chosŏn chido, The Great Korean Ch'onhado Map

Tae Chosŏn chido
37°35’N 127°0’E

The Ch’onhado projection is a circular type of map centered on China and Korea. The Tae Chosŏn chido (litteraly the Great Korean Map) is one of its finest examples.

The art of circular maps in Korea

This map is a cartographic representation of Ch’onhado projections, a type of Korean representation meaning “map of the world beneath the heavens”. It is based on the Korean term for map, jido or chido, translated roughly as “land picture”. This type of circular map was developed in Korea – known as Chosŏn between the 17th and 19th centuries and is thought to belong to Buddhist cosmography. The other characteristic feature is Chinese-centricity and a representation free of geographical realities.

In the Tae Chosŏn Chido, we find a central continent with China at the center, represented by a red circle with a yellow interior; as well as Korea represented by a yellow-bordered rectangle with a red interior. To its right, in the maritime ring, is Japan, identified in a yellow rectangle. The natural elements represented – trees and rivers – seems to be Buddhist symbols.
The surrounding rings of land and sea represent real or mythological peoples and places, whose source is mainly classical Chinese literature. The list of these fictional countries is very similar from one Ch’onhado map to the next, and their respective positions on the maps are relatively fixed. Although these maps were occasionally found in individual formats, they were used as the opening pages of most atlases in the past. Such maps were only produced in Korea and have not been found in China or Japan.

Detailed Atlas
Tae Choson Chido Ch'onhado
Other examples of Ch'onhado maps
Source: Tae Chosŏn chido. [S.l.: s.n., ?, 1874] Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/84117124/
Musée Guimet, Paulus Swaen, Rare atlas

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