Vietnamese Map

October 24, 2017
Antique Vietnamese map Ceramic

Or_14907_f066r-cropOne quite interesting Vietnamese manuscripts into the British Library, Bắc Sứ Thủy Lục Địa Đô or, in Chinese, Beishi shuilu ditu, ‘The northwards embassy by-land and liquid from Hanoi to Beijing’ (otherwise. 14907), recently been digitised. Printed in the Vietnamese language in Chinese characters (chữ Hán) and dated 1880, the manuscript is a whole visual record associated with the path from Bắc Thành (the former title of Hanoi in Nguyễn Dynasty) through China to Beijing, taken by envoys of Vietnamese Emperor Tự Đức (r.1847-1883) to their tribute-bearing mission in 1880. This work was probably created as an archival record associated with the journey. Roads, hills, waterways, bridges, structures, urban centers and cities are typical plainly portrayed, as would be the points of departure and arrival on the very first and final pages. The subject, written in Chinese characters (Beishi shuilu ditu), comes with the day (gengchen) for the journey, in line with the Chinese 60-year cyclical system. The annotations for each page list place-names and distances in Chinese kilometers (li or ly in Vietnamese) with occasional of use records, particularly ‘from right here merchants used only Qianlong money’. Land paths are marked in red ink and water paths tend to be taped in blue ink.

The goal passed through Gong Xian County in Henan Province and crossed Luo River. British Library, Or.14907, ff.54v-55r.

To the end associated with the nineteenth century Vietnam was faced with really serious threats from French colonialism. After taking Southern Vietnam (Cochin China) when you look at the 1860s, the French gradually fulfilled their particular territorial want to take other kingdom. In January 1874, after another defeat, the court of Emperor Tự Đức had to sign a treaty aided by the French which generated the occupation of North Vietnam. Under this treaty, Vietnam ‘s international policy had been underneath the control of French colonial energy. But Vietnam nevertheless kept up its tradition of giving tribute missions to China.

The tribute system ended up being employed in Chinese international plan for most hundreds of years before its collapse at the end of the 19th century under the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). As the most effective kingdom in East and Southeast Asia, Asia saw by herself as ‘the Middle Kingdom’ and demanded that smaller and ‘inferior’ kingdoms in the area send the woman tribute frequently. Little states in the region willingly delivered tribute missions to Beijing, without viewing this custom as acknowledgement of vassalage to China; on the other hand, it was perceived as a reciprocal system, wherein Beijing had been accepted while the patriarch of other, substandard, kingdoms. Once their particular missions was in fact gotten by the court in Beijing, recognition by China offered rulers of smaller kingdoms legitimacy to rule. The tribute system also offered safety and governmental stability for smaller kingdoms against invasions from Asia as long as they did not implement any policy which would interrupt the Middle Kingdom.


As a neighbouring nation, Vietnam had been probably the most active participants inside Chinese tribute system, which provided political gains enabling calm co-existence with its effective neighbour. As Brantly Womack points out, China was always Vietnam’s biggest governmental menace. Hence Chinese recognition associated with Vietnamese court due to the fact legitimate rulers associated with country was indispensable and ended up being tantamount to an acknowledgement of Vietnam’s directly to exist. Contrary to the colonialism of Western imperialism, Asia acted while the passive guarantor of a matrix of unequal but autonomous relationships, rather than as a working metropolitan energy: to attend Beijing had been more reassuring rather than have Paris come to you (Womack 2006: 135).

From its really beginnings, not merely did independent Vietnam openly take its standing as a vassal, however it sent its many prominent scholars as emissaries on tribute missions. William Duiker features characterised the historic commitment between China and Vietnam as follows: ‘To Asia, the Vietnamese must-have resembled a wayward more youthful sibling … Chinese attitudes toward Vietnam combined paternalism and benevolence with a healthier dosage of arrogance and social condescension stemming from conviction it was China which had raised the Vietnamese from their past state of barbarism. As for the Vietnamese, their mindset toward China had been a unique mixture of value and truculence, incorporating a pragmatic acceptance of Chinese power and impact with a dogged defence of Vietnamese self-reliance and distinctiveness’ (Duiker 1986: 6).

Guangning Gate (30 ly prior to the main City gate). Uk Library, Or.14907, f.69r.

The 1880 tribute mission happened against a backdrop of governmental problems in Vietnam. Following the signing regarding the 1874 treaty, there was unrest in North Vietnam (Tonkin) among Vietnamese who saw the Nguyễn rulers as weak leaders that has readily capitulated to French energy. The Ebony Flag rebellion, led by Lưư Vinh Phục, caused disruption to foreign commercial organizations and French religious missions, disturbing both Beijing and Paris. Therefore two Chinese incursions took place in 1878 and 1879, while at exactly the same time, the French held placing stress on the judge in Huế because of the threat of another invasion (Đinh Xuân Lâm 1999: 47). To be able to appease the Chinese and to look for assistance from the center Kingdom, the Vietnamese courtroom attempted to deliver missions to Beijing. Some missions had been successful, but others had been intercepted by the French. The 1880 tribute goal had been for that reason one of several efforts. It probably crossed the edge during the early October and arrived in Beijing in December 1880.

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