maps and empires

En aquel Imperio, el Arte de la Cartografía logró tal Perfección que el Mapa de una sola Provincia ocupaba toda una Ciudad, y el Mapa del Imperio, toda una Provincia. Con el tiempo, estos Mapas Desmesurados no satisficieron y los Colegios de Cartógrafos levantaron un Mapa del Imperio, que tenía el Tamaño del Imperio y coincidía puntualmente con él. Menos Adictas al Estudio de la Cartografía, las Generaciones Siguientes entendieron que ese dilatado Mapa era Inútil y no sin Impiedad lo entregaron a las Inclemencias del Sol y los Inviernos. En los Desiertos del Oeste perduran despedazadas Ruinas del Mapa, habitadas por Animales y por Mendigos; en todo el País no hay otra reliquia de las Disciplinas Geográficas.
Suárez Miranda: Viajes de varones prudentes,
libro cuarto, cap. XLV, Lérida, 1658.

Jorge Luis Borges

[read it in english here]

compare:

“Chendge was located at a remote Inner Mongolian oasis with lakes, green hills, and a multitude of small rivers at the foot of the yanshan mountains. (…) Qianlong created about ten new temples in the surrounding areas (…).

These temples, dedicated to a range of Confusian and Buddhist deities drawn from various parts of the empire, formed a conceptual and religious-political arc around the palace. All these temples can be seen from the main hill north of the palace, so that they form a single scenographic whole. A self-conscious visual ensemble, Chengde was a spectacle. With the Han Chinese palace complex with its lake, gardens, and hills at its center and the Buddhist temples in an arc around it, Chengde was a veritable microcosm of the Qing empire, a map of the land.

But Chengde was more than a map of the empire. It was also an ordering of that map according to a Buddhist mandala.”

Jarzombek, Prakash, Ching, A Global History of Architecture (Hoboken: Wiley 2007), 587.

[googlemap Chengde!!]

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