Chinese Nautical Charts: Their Types and Modern Application

3pm Sunday, 5 May 2019
The Ngee Ann Auditorium
Asian Civilisations Museum
1 Empress Place
Singapore 179555

This talk introduces three types of ancient Chinese nautical materials: the map, rutter and coastal profile. The most famous Chinese nautical chart is no doubt the Selden Map of China in the collection of Oxford University’s Bodleian Library, followed by the Mao K’un Map in the Library of Congress. In recent years, another type of nautical material, the rutter, has caught the attention of researchers. Among them, the ‘Shun-feng hsiang-sung’ (‘Fair Winds for Escort’) in the Bodleian Library has probably drawn the most attention. On the other hand, there is a type of navigation material, the coastal profile, which features illustrations of landmarks accompanied by text descriptions. They are represented in the Yale University collection. All these materials contain implicit magnetic north information, which the speaker has used to create a new dating method.

About Dr Tai Yew Seng
Dr Tai Yew Seng is a Visiting Fellow at ISEAS’ Nalanda Sriwijaya Centre. He is a ceramic archaeologist who specialises in excavating and handling ceramics from kiln sites, shipwrecks and tombs. He is also a specialist on Southeast Asian maritime trade with China. He was a Research Fellow at the Earth Observatory of Singapore (NTU) and was involved in the Aceh GeoHazard Project, which collected over 52,000 pieces of ancient ceramic sherds (a project that long-time SEACS member Ed McKinnon was also actively involved with). He has taught courses on Chinese culture and lectured on material culture at the Chinese Department at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and National University of Singapore (NUS), and authored a number of papers and articles on ceramic archaeology and maritime trade.

This event is open to SEACS members and their friends. No RSVP is required but seating is limited and on a first-come first-served basis. SEACS thanks its venue sponsor Asian Civilisations Museum for hosting this event.

The 1579 Ortelius map of Southeast Asia
The ‘Zheng He’ map