About A Complete Map of the World, 1674

Made by the Flemish Jesuit priest Ferdinand Verbiest with the help of Chinese collaborators, this map is one of the largest woodblock-printed maps of its type. The world is displayed in two hemispheres, reversing the conventional European positioning so that China and the Pacific are toward the center. One of the most striking aspects of the Verbiest map is the depiction of animals on the huge southern landmass. The texts beside the animals combine fact with fantasy (as do some of the map's passages describing people), reflecting the viewpoints and prejudices of the period.

This map is featured in the exhibition, China at the Center: Rare Ricci and Verbiest World Maps, on view at the Asian Art Museum from March 4–May 8, 2016. View another map in this exhibition by Matteo Ricci (Italian, 1522–1619).


Translations by A.C. Baecker. Cartouche synopsis by Mark Mir. Commentary on animals by Natasha Reichle. Additional assistance by Ellen Yeung. Produced by the Asian Art Museum in collaboration with Earprint Productions. Edited by Clare Jacobson. Project managed by Lorraine Goodwin.

A Complete Map of the World, 1674, by Ferdinand Verbiest, is owned by the Geography & Map Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. This interactive was developed for the 2016 exhibition China at the Center: Rare Ricci and Verbiest World Maps. The exhibition was organized by the Asian Art Museum in partnership with the University of San Francisco.

A Note About This Map

The passages on this map combine fact with fantasy. In descriptions of the peoples of the world, the text reflects the seventeenth-century viewpoints and prejudices of its makers.