Thoughts on a Hand-painted Pictorial Map of Wutaishan at the Museum am Rothenbaum in Hamburg
The Museum am Rothenbaum in Hamburg (MARKK) has a notable collection of maps from East Asia, namely China, Japan and Korea. Many were collected by the German geoscientist Carl Christian Gottsche (1855–1909) during his long stays in Japan and Korea in the late 19th century. Nevertheless, there are also individual items in the collection for which no acquisition records exist. These include a large painting of the pilgrimage site Wutaishan (Mount Wutai; ‘ Five-Terrace Mountain’) in China, in ink and pigments on primed canvas, titled Wutaishan sheng jing quan tu (Panoramic Picture of the Sacred Realm of Five-Terrace Mountain) (Fig. 1; see also Figs 1a–l). As Cordell D. K. Lee notes, its combination of pictorial and cartographic elements qualifies it for classification as a ‘picture map’ (1994, p. 152). The Wutaishan map at MARKK is being studied as part of a three-year joint research project, ‘Coloured Maps’ (2018–21), funded by The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), involving the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures and the Mineralogical Museum, Center of Natural History (CeNak), both at the University of Hamburg, the Hanseatic Business Archive Foundation and MARKK. Combining methods from the material sciences with art- and cultural-historical approaches, the research group analyses hand-drawn and hand-coloured maps from Europe and East Asia produced between the 15th and 20th centuries, with a focus on maps held in respective institutions in Hamburg. This article will present a brief overview of the Wutaishan map at MARKK as a preliminary report on this ongoing project.