Geography and Geographical Works


Electronic Resources:

Thomas Hahn's website on Historical Geography

This is one of the most substantial sites on the web. Includes the following:

Standard Reference Works for Quick Problem Solving
  • Atlases, Modern
    • Zhonghua renmin gonghe guo fensheng ditu ji 中華人民共和國分省地圖集. Beijing: Ditu chubanshe, 1977
  • Atlases, Historical
    • Zhongguo lishi ditu ji 中國歷史地圖集. Comp. Tan Qixiang 譚其驤. 8 vols. Shanghai: Ditu chubanshe, 1982-87
  • Maps, Antique
    • Zhongguo gudai dituji 中國古代地圖集. Comp. Cao Wanru 曹婉如 et al. Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 1990.
  • Geographical Dictionaries
    • Zhongguo diming da cidian 中國地名大辭典. Comp. Liu Junren. Beijing: Guoli Beiping yanjiuyuan, 1930.
    • Zhongguo diming cidian 中國地名大辭典. Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe, 1990.
    • Zhongguo gujin diming da cidian 中國古今地名大辭典. Comp. Zang Lihe 臧勵龢 et al. Shanghai: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1931. Zang Lihe 臧勵龢, et al., ed. Zhongguo gujin diming da cidian 中國古今地名大辭典(2nd. ed., 1933) EAL
      • The standard dictionary of place names to the early Republican period. It gives a careful listing of names, culled directly from historical sources, checked against the works of authors of geographical texts through the years, and arranged in a chronological format, giving variant and changed names, as well. Sources are varied and reliable. Includes some anachronistic, literary, names as well. 4-Corner index. Example:


  [Jade Arroyo] Located in the northwest of Jiyuan County in Honan. Li Shangyin of the Tang prepared for the examinations at Wangwu Mountain, in Yuyang, when he was young. He has a passage of prose that reads, "The ancient mountain rises high, high and Jade Arroyo is in its center." He means that it is in the center of Wuwang Mountain. Yelv Chucai of the Yuan's poem, "Mid-Road to Wuwang:" "Chanting as I walk, imagining, I deeply cherish the scenery / So many plum flowers split in Jade Arroyo." Located in the southwest of Wenxiang County in Honan. See the entry on Yujian River. In the southeast of Yongji County in Shanxi, and it is indeed Yongle Creek. Its source stems from Baoshan and it flows southward into the Yellow River. Li Shangyin once lodged in Yongle and later people consequently called it Jade Arroyo [after Li Shangyin]. Located in the east of Qinshui County. This is the Jade Arroyo River, and it flows southwest into the Qin River. The Small Record of Three Rivers: "In the southwest of Gaoping Country, I climbed a mountain and crossed over the Jade Arroyo." This probably refers to this spot.
    • 2. Shina rekidai chimei yoran 支那歷代地名要覽.

      See Teng and Biggerstaff, An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Chinese Reference Works, 157n. This work, compiled by Aoyama Sadao 青山定雄, also goes by the title Du shi fangyu jiyao suoyin Zhina lidai diming yaolan 讀史方輿紀要索引支那歷代地名要覽. It is an index to parts 2 and 3 of Gu Zuyu 顧祖禹, Du shi fangyu jiyao and gives modern equivalents for over 30,000 pre-Qing toponyms. Note that some of these "modern" place names are now obsolete.

      B. There are now numerous guides to place names in historical works and on historical geography.

      Often these can be located through the usual tools for finding published research. However, an important bibliography for historical geography is the following: Du Yu 杜瑜 and Zhu Lingling 朱玲玲, comps. Zhongguo lishi dilixue lunzhu suoyin (1900-80) 中國歷史地理學論著索引. Beijing: Shumu wenxian chubanshe, 1986. See Wilkinson, both the chapter on "Geography" and his individual chapters on dynastic sources. The following three sources are guides to place names in historical text; for the most part they have been superseded by the databases available through Academia Sinica's fine website, where all of the dynastic histories are found. Like the personal name indices for the twenty-four histories, these works gives each incidence of citation for place names in the respective histories. 4-corner index.

      1. Ji Chao 嵇超 , et al., ed. Shiji diming suoyin 史記地名索引. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1990 EAL

      2.Chen Jialin 陳家林 and Wang Renkang 王仁康, ed. Hanshu diming suoyin 漢書地名索引. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1990 EAL

      3.Wang Yuanliang 王元良 , ed. Sanguo zhi diming suoyin 漢書地名索引. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1985. EAL

      C. You should also check the series of historical dictionaries produced by the Educational Press of Shandong 山東教育出版社, which now are complete to the Five Dynasties Period, and are planned to go as far as the Draft History of the Qing. These are part of a series, called Ershiwu shi zhuanshu cidian congshu 二十五史專書叢書 are done under the general editorship of Wang Shunhui 王舜徽 and Song Yanshen 宋衍申.

      史記辭典、漢書辭典、後漢書辭典、三國志辭典、晉 書辭典、南朝五史辭典、北朝五史辭典、兩唐辭典、兩五代史辭典。

      D. Historical atlases

      After identifying a place name, it is often useful, sometimes even necessary, to locate it on a map in order to better understand the meaning of the passage or events in question. This requires using a historical atlas. For a good list of atlases, see Hahn, bibliography of works on historical geography, section on historical atlases . A short list is given here:

      1. Herrmann, Albert. An Historical Atlas of China. 1935. Rev. ed. Chicago: Aldine, 1966.

      These maps are in color, which is an aid to distinguishing boundaries. They do not include many smaller and less important places, but the atlas is one of the most convenient references to use for checking larger geographical entities.

      2. Yang Shoujing 楊守敬 (1839-1915). Lidai yuditu 歷代輿地圖.

      See Teng and Biggerstaff, An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Chinese Reference Works, 159. This contains very good historical maps, though it is not always as accurate as one might wish.

      3. Yanai Wataru 箭內互. Tooyoo dokushi chizu 東洋讀史地圖. Rev. and enlarged Wada Sei 和田清. Tokyo: Fuzambo, 1941.

      This treats Asia as a whole. Zhongguo lishi dituji 中國歷史地圖集. See Teng and Biggerstaff, 159.

      4. Tan Qixiang 譚其驤 et al.. Zhongguo lishi dituji 中國歷史地圖集. 8 vols. Shanghai: Ditu chubanshe, 1982.

      This excellent set is probably the best to use. One problem with it, however, is that boundaries, especially the modern boundaries shown in lighter color, are sometimes extremely difficult to see. This exists also in a CD-ROM version which is difficult to find. If the maps are scanned in, they produce manipulable images which are quite clear and can also be enlarged with software which gives amazingly precise views. They can also be mounted on the web (with proper attribution) and shown in a variety of scales.

      Cheng Kuangyu 程光裕 et al.. Zhongguo lishi ditu 中國歷史地圖. 2 vols. Taibei: Zhongguo wenhua xueyuan, 1980-84.

      This work, while sometimes helpful, is not as comprehensive as Tan, Zhongguo lishi dituji.


      Non-Chinese place names

      Often it is very difficult to identify foreign place names in Chinese transcription. This problem must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. There is no simple solution that can be applied in each and every instance. The atlases listed above are often helpful, but they can be contradictory and confusing. Herrmann can be useful, but it is necessary to read the prefatory essay by Paul Wheatley, for it corrects some errors in the maps. To arrive at a satisfactory identification of a non-Chinese toponym, it is sometimes necessary to turn to specialized studies of the areas concerned. Teng and Biggerstaff, An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Chinese Reference Works, 64?65 lists bibliographies of studies of foreign place names. See also Nora Munro's Bibliography of Mongolian Studies. The following is only a partial list of some studies related to foreign lands mentioned in Chinese writings:

      Lattimore, Owen. Inner Asian Frontiers of China. 1940. Boston: Beacon, 1962. Parker, H. H. A Thousand Years of the Tartars. 2nd ed. New York: Knopf, 1924.

      McGovern, William M. The Early Empires of Central Asia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1939.

      Dobbs, Jack A. History of the Discovery and Exploration of Chinese Turkestan. The Hague: Mouton, 1963.

      Demi?ille, Paul. La Concile de Lhasa. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale de France, 1952.

      Hirth, Friederich and W. W. Rockhill, trans. Chau Ju-kua: His Work on the Chinese and Arab Trade in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries, Entitled Chu-fan-chih. 1912. New York: Paragon, 1966.

      Tsunoda, Ryusaku. Japan in the Chinese Dynastic Histories, Later Han through Ming Dynasties. South Pasadena: P. D. and Ione Perkins, 1951.

      Bagchi, Prabodh. India and China: A Thousand Years of Cultural Relations. 2nd. ed. New York: Philosophical Library, 1951.

      Beckwith, Christopher I. The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987.

      Boulnois, Luce. The Silk Road. Translated by Dennis Chamberlin. New York: Sutton, 1966.

      Eberhard, Wolfgang. Das Toba-reich Nordchinas: eine soziolische Untersuchung. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1949.

      Carrol, D. T., trans. Account of T'u-y?-hun in the History of the Chin Dynasty. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1953.

      Miller, Roy Andrew. Accounts of Western Nations in the History of the Northern Chou Dynasty. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959.

      Chavannes, Edouard. Documents sur les Tou-kiue (Turcs) occidentaux. 1903. Taipei: Ch'eng-wen, 1969.

      Hamilton, James Russell. Les Quighours ? l'?oque des Cinc Dynasties, d'apr? les documents chinois. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale de France, 1955.

      Barthold, Vasilii V. Turkestan down to the Mongol Invasion. Translated and revised by the author and H. A. R. Biggs. Addenda and corrigenda by V. Minorsky. 4th. ed. London: E. J. W. Gibb Memorial Trust, 1977.

      MacKerras, Colin. The Uighur Empire (744?840)哻ccording to the T'ang Dynastic Histories. Canberra: Australian National University, 1968.

      Luce, Gordon H., trans. The Man shu: Book of the Southern Barbarians. Ithaca: Southeast Asia Program, Department of Far Eastern Studies, Cornell University, 1961.

      Bretschneider, Emilii. Medieval Researches from Eastern Asiatic Sources. 2 vols. London: Kegan Paul, 1910.

      Sinor, Denis. Introduction a l'etude de l'Eurasie centrale. Wiesbaden, 1961.

      Satoo Hisashi. "The Route from Kokonor to Lhasa during the T'ang Period." Acta Asiatica 29 (1975).

      Backus, Charles. The Nan-chao Kingdom and T'ang China's Southwestern Frontier. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

      Wheatley, Paul. N齊ara and Commandery: Origins of the Southeast Asian Urban Traditions. University of Chicago Department of Geography Research Paper 207?8. Chicago: Department of Geography, University of Chicago, 1983.

      Lu Jiarong 陸佳榮 et al., comps. Gudai Nanhai diming hui shi 古代南海地名匯釋. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986.

      Lu Junling 陸峻岭 and Zhou Shaoquan 周紹泉, eds. Zhongguo gu ji zhong you guan Jianpuzhai ziliao huibian 中國古籍中有關柬埔寨資料匯編. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986