By: Pieter van der Aa
Date: 1700 (circa) Leiden
Dimensions: 11.25 x 30.5 inches (28.6 cm x 77.5 cm)
This stunning view of Iedo (later to be renamed Tokyo), Japan shows the great city as it was at the beginning of the 18th century. Done in bird’s eye view, this map provides a wealth of information regarding the countryside, the city and the lifestyle of some of its inhabitants during one of the country’s more stable, peaceful and prosperous times, often referred to as either the Edo or the Tokugawa Period. Following centuries of warfare and disruption, this era of calm lead to a remarkable expansion of the country’s economy, especially in the areas of agricultural production, transportation infrastructure, commerce, and population growth and literacy, all of which are reflected in this work of van der Aa. The importance of agriculture was such that farmers rose to a social position just below that of the Samurai class.
This engraving reflects successful agricultural development with large cultivated fields covering much of the countryside, and a river with steep embankments and major bridges flowing through the fields from the city. Some wooded areas have been left uncultivated. A waterfall provides another source of water with what appears to be water-driven industry of some kind depicted on the banks of the waterway below it. Two contingents of obviously wealthy people are pictured on roadways leading away from the city. Other indications of prosperity include the many temples in the city, along with large homes in both cosmopolitan and suburban areas. The very mode of transportation with the wealthy comfortably transported, cosseted and accompanied by armed guards is yet another allusion to the affluence of those depicted. The government was strong and conservative, enforcing strict social policies at home and imposing firm limitations on all international trade of any kind. In addition to the pictorial depictions, van der Aa provides meticulous descriptions of places, buildings, temples, etc., in both French and Dutch, with numbers denoting each place.
According to Japanese custom of the time, extended royal family members were provided extravagant housing, each of which is listed here. Examples include the Palace of the Emperor, Palace of the Concubines, Palace of Justice, Palace of the Brother of the Empress, etc. Using their wealth, the upper classes, including the samurai, enthusiastically patronized the pleasure quarters in large cities, and the courtesans, teahouses, theatres, and restaurants which were found there. It was a time of a blossoming of the arts.
Condition: This map is in B+ condition. Toning is even with darkening at the very edge of the paper. Some foxing.
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