Chinese Contributions to Geography Notes
Contributions of Chinese
Chinese made an important contribution to geography between 200 and 1500 AD. They contributed significantly in field of astronomy and cartography. Astronomy played a major role in Chinese science as knowledge of astronomy and compilation of agrarian calendars was helpful to state in controlling the productive capacity of the population. Thus, by second century AD, three main schools of cosmology and astronomy had emerged
[i] Kai Thien Theory It envisaged heavens as a hemisphere covering the Earth which was shaped like an upturned bowl.
[ii] Hun Thien Theory It corresponded with the Greek view of heavenly spheres revolving round the globe.
[iii] Hsuan Yeh Theory It envisaged an infinite space in which the heavenly bodies floated freely.
 Yu Kung
Yu Kung wrote a historical classic book, ‘Shu Ching’. A chapter in this book “Tribute of Yu” is the earliest Chinese geographical document. This work provides an inventory of Chou Empire, mainly in term of its physical geography and lists the traditional nine provinces, their kinds of soil, their characteristic products and waterways running through them.
 Phei Hsiu
Phei Hsiu is the Father of Chinese Geography. He was appointed Minister of Public Works by the Chinese emperor in 267 AD.
Along with Chang Heng, he developed a scientific method of cartography based on a rectangular coordinate system.
 Chu Ssu – Pen
Chu Ssu-Pen compiled the cartographic work to summarise the new information that was available due to unification of Mongol with Asia. His map remained a reference for over two centuries.
He recognised Africa was a Southward pointing triangle in contrary to contemporary European and Arabic maps where it was always represented as pointing Eastwards.
 Wang Ling
Wang Ling was a Chinese and Australian educator known for his collaboration with Joseph Needham on history of science and technology in China.
Wang Ling and Needham suggested a five-fold classification of Chinese geography which are explained as follows
[i] Anthropological geographies, known as Chih kung Thu (Illustrations of the Tribute-Bearing Peoples), dating from mid 6th century AD.
[ii] Descriptions of folk customs of countries to the South of China (Feng Thu Chi) and descriptions of unfamiliar regions (I Wu Chih) both dating from 2nd century AD.
[iii] Hydrographic books and coastal descriptions such as Shui Ching (Waterways Classic).
[iv] Local topographies or gazetteers such as Hua Yang Kuo Chih (Historical Geography of Szechuan) written from 4th century AD onwards.
[v] Geographical encyclopedias compiled from Chin dyansty in a style similar to that of Strabo.
N.B- Notes will be updated time to time
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