Atlas

Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City

Dung Kai-cheung
Dung Kai-cheung
Anders Hansson
Bonnie S. McDougall
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/dung16100
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Atlas
    Book Description:

    Set in the long-lost City of Victoria (a fictional world similar to Hong Kong), Atlas is written from the unified perspective of future archaeologists struggling to rebuild a thrilling metropolis. Divided into four sections -- "Theory," "The City," "Streets," and "Signs" -- the novel reimagines Victoria through maps and other historical documents and artifacts, mixing real-world scenarios with purely imaginary people and events while incorporating anecdotes and actual and fictional social commentary and critique.

    Much like the quasi-fictional adventures in map-reading and remapping explored by Paul Auster, Jorge Luis Borges, and Italo Calvino, Dung Kai-cheung's novel challenges the representation of place and history and the limits of technical and scientific media in reconstructing a history. It best exemplifies the author's versatility and experimentation, along with China's rapidly evolving literary culture, by blending fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in a story about succeeding and failing to recapture the things we lose. Playing with a variety of styles and subjects, Dung Kai-cheung inventively engages with the fate of Hong Kong since its British "handover" in 1997, which officially marked the end of colonial rule and the beginning of an uncharted future.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50422-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface: AN ARCHAEOLOGY FOR THE FUTURE
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Dung Kai-cheung
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xvii-xxxiii)
    Bonnie S. McDougall

    Dung Kai-cheung’s Atlas has been compared to Italo Calvino’s Le città invisibili (Invisible Cities);¹ the names Jorge Luis Borges, Umberto Eco, and Roland Barthes also appear in Atlas and have been cited as influences. Yet Atlas, “a verbal collection of maps,” is unique, an extraordinary assemblage of fact and fiction; of history, geography, philosophy, and politics; of imagination and wit; of fantasy and anecdote. It is a novel without a plot; there is a wide range of characters but none dominant; there is sex and violence but all offstage. The profusion of place-names in its early chapters can be daunting,...

  5. Part One: Theory
    • 1 COUNTERPLACE
      (pp. 3-4)

      “Macao Roads,” drawn in 1810, demonstrated for the first time the possibility of a theory of counterplace. According to an ancient and almost forgotten saying, every place that appears on a map must have one or more counterplaces. This knowledge had been invalidated in the development of scientific mapmaking, and it regained attention only recently through extended researches into ancient maps.

      “Macao Roads” was jointly produced by Daniel Ross and Philip Maughan, lieutenants of the Bombay Marine, for the British East India Company. At its center are the waters around what was later known as Hong Kong (including Hong Kong...

    • 2 COMMONPLACE
      (pp. 5-6)

      When we study ancient maps, we find repeatedly that places with the same name appear in different forms. These places lumped together under one name are not in fact the same place but common places. Although they are not the same place, they have something in common. This is how the term “commonplace” is defined.

      Examples of commonplaces are numerous. Take, for example, a place called Hung Heung Lou Shan (literally, “red incense burner mountain”). There is a small island called Hung Heung Lou shown on a map of San-on County (an area roughly corresponding to the Pearl River Delta)...

    • 3 MISPLACE
      (pp. 7-8)

      In the map in the 1819 edition of the San-on County Gazetteer, Tuen Mun Shun (garrison gate high water) is situated among a group of islands in the sea to the west of Kowloon Shun, standing next to Pui To Shan (cup crossing mountain). On the “Map of San-on County” in the 1864 edition of the Guangdong Provincial Gazetteer, however, Tuen Mun O (garrison gate bay) appears among the mountains on the eastern side of the mainland, to the north of Ma On Shan (saddle mountain), facing Pui To Shan from afar. Further, if we consult the 1897 edition of...

    • 4 DISPLACE
      (pp. 9-10)

      The term “displace” can be understood in a narrow and a broad sense. In the narrow sense, it means that the position of one place is taken over by another place in the diachronic development of mapmaking. A good example can be found in “A Coastal Map of Guangdong” in A Comprehensive Account of Guangdong Province, written by Guo Fei in the late sixteenth century. This map is oriented in such a way that it faces toward the South China Sea from the mainland with the south at the top. It shows a big island across the water to the...

    • 5 ANTIPLACE
      (pp. 11-13)

      The “Map of the Sun-on-district,” drawn by the Italian missionary Simeone Volonteri in 1866, delineates in minute detail the positions of villages on the British-governed Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula as well as in the adjacent areas of San-on County, which at the time was still Chinese territory. Father Volonteri’s original plan was to have the map engraved in London, so as to acquire enough subscribers to cover the expenses of publication, and with the map would be attached a free copy of a pamphlet on cartography written by Volonteri himself. The engraving was eventually done in Leipzig for...

    • 6 NONPLACE
      (pp. 14-15)

      Nonplace does not mean no place, nor does it mean a nonexistent place. It just lacks certain conditions that a place should have, such as a name and a referential reality. Commonsense tells us that to have a name but no referential reality, or to have referential reality but no name, does not count as a “place” in the strict sense. Yet, for a cartographer, so long as it is included in the area of a map, even though it does not have a name or a referential reality, no two-dimensional space at any bearing should ever be denied the...

    • 7 EXTRATERRITORIALITY
      (pp. 16-18)

      Extraterritoriality has always been a controversial concept in cartographical studies. The term “territory” has never been a simple and neutral indication of a place but implies by necessity occupation, subordination, and administration, all of which carry connotations of a master-servant power relation. It demonstrates how an authority legitimizes its possession of a place, and how this process of legitimization is inevitably implemented through the production of maps. This argument alone is enough to disprove the attempts of some scholars at delimiting cartography as merely a set of technical exercises based on natural geographical realities. For maps are not just a...

    • 8 BOUNDARY
      (pp. 19-21)

      If we take a careful look at the map for the lease of Kowloon (before it was formally ceded) that was attached to the Treaty of Tientsin in 1860, one or two thought-provoking points will naturally catch our attention regarding the straight line cutting across the northern part of the Kowloon Peninsula from east to west. In the east the line begins at Kowloon Fort, and in the west it ends at the northern point of Yeung Suen Chau (later called Ong Suen Chau, or “tossing boat island”). San-on County lies north of the line and to the south is...

    • 9 UTOPIA
      (pp. 22-25)

      If we open a traditional textbook on cartography and look up the section on map reading, we will find the following explanation: “Topographical map reading, or topographical map interpretation, is a method of gaining knowledge about the objective geographical environment through topographical maps. The process of map reading involves the reader recognizing signs on maps, thereby making the information received interact with the original spatial images registered by the cognitive faculties of the cerebrum, and in so doing transforming the reading of signs into knowledge of the geographical environment.” However, for a map reader like you or me, the ultimate...

    • 10 SUPERTOPIA
      (pp. 26-28)

      Borges tells us the story about a map that becomes one with the empire.

      In his essay “On the Impossibility of Drawing a Map of the Empire on a Scale of 1 to 1,”³ Umberto Eco proposes three hypotheses on how to make such a “total map” and then proceeds to disprove the viability of these methods. The three methods are as follows: first, to extend in midair a half-transparent sheet of a size equal to the empire, and then mark from above point by point on the sheet the corresponding topography below; second, to hang above the empire a...

    • 11 SUBTOPIA
      (pp. 29-30)

      Underground is no less mysterious than undersea, and we have had frequent imaginative accounts of this underground. The Italian novelist Italo Calvino has described in Invisible Cities the existence of an underground world that corresponds geometrically with the cities aboveground. In fact, however, the underground is not an untrodden realm; for example, the remains of an underground city built more than two thousand years ago by early Christians escaping from persecution can be found in the remarkable stony landscape of Cappadocia in Turkey. Yet to be underground means to be cut off from growth, shut up in murmurs of funereal...

    • 12 TRANSTOPIA
      (pp. 31-33)

      The earth gives us a consoling feeling of permanence. Rivers change course or silt up, oceans swallow people up or set them adrift, and islands become detached. Only the earth remains impressively steady, seemingly unchanging throughout the ages. Apart from earthquakes, the earth is almost completely reliable, but it is also stagnating and dull. As scholars of cartography, we cannot cast off the ancient (and even banal) affection that people generally feel toward the earth, yet we are nevertheless intent on finding a way to introduce change to its steadfast immobility.

      A map is one way of changing the earth....

    • 13 MULTITOPIA
      (pp. 34-35)

      Theorists still disagree on the usage of the term “multitopia.” Some think that it should be used to indicate multiple spaces created in maps. Take, for example, the 1958 “Hong Kong Street Guide” by the publisher Jan Jan. Thirteen frames of different sizes and shapes are juxtaposed on this map, displaying the maze of streets in each district on Hong Kong Island. The peculiar thing about this juxtaposition is that the relative positions, distances, and areas of the districts have been completely rearranged, and in the resulting confusion Shek Tong Tsui and Kennedy Town, originally on the northern coast of...

    • 14 UNITOPIA
      (pp. 36-38)

      Like multitopia, unitopia is a controversial concept. Unitopia can be understood in opposite ways: first, as an independent place, from the word “unique”; second, as a unified place, from the idea of “unity.” The former signifies an individual’s self-definition, the latter, the whole swallowing up the individual; the former tends toward division and autonomy, the latter toward convergence and control.

      Some people understand the dual meanings of unitopia through concepts of scale and borders. First, the existence of a place on a map is entirely reliant on the boundaries created by borders. A border is the cognitive frame for the...

    • 15 OMNITOPIA
      (pp. 39-41)

      The place that I have never succeeded in finding is omnitopia. In the eleventh century, the monk Heinrich of Mainz (1021–1063), in an essay on religion and geography, quoted the concept of “omnitopia” allegedly taken from the ninth book of Geographia by the Greek scholar Ptolemy (90–168).

      Ptolemy’s monumental work consists of eight books in total. It deals with techniques of mapmaking and theories of projection, lists the longitude and latitude bearings of eight thousand placenames, and includes a world map and twenty-six regional maps. In his map of the world, the longitudes and latitudes are drawn as...

  6. Part Two: The City
    • 16 MIRAGE: CITY IN THE SEA
      (pp. 45-47)

      The legendary city of Victoria was, like Venus, born from the waves of the sea. It is not known how it disappeared in the end. The legend thus brings us face-to-face with an archaeological question: by what means can we verify a city’s existence?

      Suppose we have in hand only fragments of accounts written on this city, which taken together cannot be regarded even as a history; suppose we succeed in collecting items alleged to be its remains from all over the world, including wigs, cheap watches, fake high fashion goods, and retouched landscape postcards; yet so long as we...

    • 17 MIRAGE: TOWERS IN THE AIR
      (pp. 48-49)

      A description of Victoria can be found in the book The Shipwreck of Kino from Bishu.

      In August 1841, a Japanese seaman by the name of Kino set off from Toba for Edo on the ship Eiju Maru, a vessel that could carry a load of 1,000 piculs and had sails measuring seventy-four feet. A storm at a far-off sandbank in midjourney broke the mast so that the ship drifted out to sea. After a hundred days adrift on the open sea, the entire crew of thirteen men were rescued by the Spanish ship Esperanza and taken to California in...

    • 18 POTTINGER’S INVERTED VISION
      (pp. 50-52)

      Of the existing maps of Victoria, “Pottinger’s Map” should be the earliest. This map is said to have been drawn up in 1842 by Sir Henry Pottinger, the first governor in Victoria. The street plan and land allotment boundaries on the island’s northern shore are all shown. The design is sketchy but somewhat more careful than a draft, while its dimensions and topography differ in many places from later maps of the area.

      “Pottinger’s Map” is arranged with the south at the top and must be looked at upside down in order to fit in with our customary way of...

    • 19 GORDON’S JAIL
      (pp. 53-54)

      “Gordon’s Map” of 1843 is mentioned in the documentary records of Victoria. The original is impossible to find, but a still-extant map is said to be a copy. This map presents a general picture of Victoria at its birth and shows the orderly arrangement of the buildings lining Queen’s Road following the shore. The map’s most notable features are the jail and magistracy on what was then still a bare hillside. They encompassed an area equivalent to several dozen of the buildings along the shore and constituted by far the largest compound.

      A. T. Gordon was the first head of...

    • 20 “PLAN OF THE CITY OF VICTORIA,” 1889
      (pp. 55-56)

      The 1889 “Plan of the City of Victoria” shows that the city was already quite well developed. The street network extended farther outward from Central District, Sheung Wan, and Wan Chai, reaching Kennedy Town in the west and Causeway Bay in the east, and expanding to the higher levels and the Peak in the south. To the north the shoreline was shifted into the harbor. Looked at from a distance, this monochrome street map resembles a yellowing sketch of the habitat of climbing plants.

      The most striking and thought-provoking part of the map is an area to the north outlined...

    • 21 THE FOUR WAN AND NINE YEUK
      (pp. 57-59)

      In 1903 the Hong Kong government published the boundaries of the city of Victoria in the government gazette and set up six boundary stones. These stones are said to have been located in the following places: (1) in a waterfront park north of Victoria Road, (2) opposite St Paul’s Primary School in Wong Nai Chung Road, (3) in Bowen Road about a third of a mile from its junction with Stubbs Road, (4) where Tregunter Path meets Old Peak Road, (5) in Hatton Road 1,300 feet from Kotewall Road, (6) on the pavement of Pok Fu Lam Road near lamppost...

    • 22 THE CENTAUR OF THE EAST
      (pp. 60-61)

      In his El libro de los seres imaginarios (The Book of Imaginary Beings) Borges made an acute observation: the centaur of Western mythical zoology is the most harmonious of all creatures, but its heterogeneous character is often overlooked. Its heterogeneity lies in the fact that it consists of two separate and distinct halves joined (or juxtaposed) together to form a seamless perfection: its human part possesses purely human characteristics, and its animal part is a perfect configuration of a horse. Chinese mythology has no analogous example of a fantastic creature composed of two different parts. Although Chinese imaginary creatures are...

    • 23 SCANDAL POINT AND THE MILITARY CANTONMENT
      (pp. 62-63)

      The intentions of the military authorities become quite clear in an 1880 map showing Victoria’s military installations. The map represents the district later called Admiralty. Murray Battery is to the left, on a hillside below Government House, and Murray Parade Ground is on a low slope northeast of the battery. Murray Barracks is to the east of the parade ground, on the other side of a road. On a knoll farther east from Murray Barracks stands the building known as Flagstaff House, which was the residence of the general officer commanding. The Naval Yard occupies the central portion of the...

    • 24 MR. SMITH’S ONE-DAY TRIP
      (pp. 64-66)

      The central area of Victoria in the early twentieth century is described by the Englishman John Smith (1850–1914) in his book Round the World on the Sunrise. His account is useful for our understanding of a map from 1905, which is called “Massey’s Directory” and was printed privately by W. S. Bailey & Co. The area covered stretches from the junction of D’Aguilar Street and Queen’s Road in the west to the cricket club between Queen’s Road and Chater Road in the east and from Ice House Street and Battery Path in the south to Connaught Road and the...

    • 25 THE VIEW FROM GOVERNMENT HOUSE
      (pp. 67-69)

      The governors of Victoria did not have a permanent office or residence in the early years before Government House was built on Government Hill in 1855. However, an examination of cartographic materials reveals that Government House was still only delineated with dotted lines on a map of the central area dating from 1856, thus raising doubts concerning the exact date of its construction. As regards its location, there is no doubt that it had a commanding position overlooking the entire city. The 1889 “Plan of the City of Victoria” shows the Botanic Gardens on the slope behind Government House. It...

    • 26 THE TOAD OF BELCHER’S DREAM
      (pp. 70-72)

      Every city has its creation myth. In January 1841 the HMS Sulphur investigated the waters around Hong Kong Island under the command of Captain Edward Belcher. That project represented the last stage of a survey journey around the world undertaken by the Sulphur from 1836 to 1842. The resulting “Hong Kong Nautical Chart” was the first scientific survey map with Hong Kong Island as its object and also the first map of Hong Kong under British rule. Later historians of cartography evaluated this chart highly, seeing it as an example of the consistently rigorous approach and precise technique of the...

    • 27 THE RETURN OF KWAN TAI LOO
      (pp. 73-75)

      The inhabitants of Victoria could not have foreseen that they would be following the twists and turns of “Kwan Tai Loo.” This phrase can be interpreted as “Ah Kwan leading the way” but also as “girdle road.” However, what was subsequently renamed Kwan Tai Loo is completely unrelated to the Kwan Tai Loo of old.

      Ye Lingfeng has presented a careful study of the origin of the name Kwan Tai Loo in his Momentous Changes in Hong Kong History. First of all he has shown that the legend of “Ah Kwan showing the way” is a fantasy concocted by early...

    • 28 THE CURSE OF TAI PING SHAN
      (pp. 76-78)

      Tai Ping Shan (peace mountain) is, strictly speaking, not a mountain but a hillside district in Victoria situated to the south of Sheung Wan between Queen’s Road and Caine Road. It was a Chinese residential quarter in the early history of Victoria.

      As an age of peace and prosperity began, however, Tai Ping Shan was slowly forgotten, and the name also vanished from maps. The 1889 “Plan of the City of Victoria” shows Tai Ping Shan as a densely built-up area crisscrossed by alleys, but on twentieth-century maps the only signpost that remains to connect people’s minds to the past...

    • 29 WAR GAME
      (pp. 79-81)

      A still-extant map of Victoria designed by the British but printed in color with a Japanese text has frequently been cited as evidence of Japan’s unbridled ambitions in East Asia during World War II. The title of the map is “An Outline Map of the Military Installations of Hong Kong,” and it was drawn around 1939 or 1940. The map carefully sets out how the garrison was deployed in Victoria and its surrounding area, precisely indicating the locations of army camps, batteries, naval bases, ammunition depots, power plants, oil-storage tanks, and other installations of strategic importance, and also providing an...

  7. Part Three: Streets
    • 30 SPRING GARDEN LANE
      (pp. 85-87)

      Spring Garden Lane was one of the oldest streets in Hong Kong. It had already become a settlement for British people on the island when Hong Kong was first opened as a treaty port, and it is said that the first governor’s official residence was located on this site. According to research by Ye Lingfeng, the word “spring” in Spring Garden does not refer to the season (as in the Chinese version of the name) but to a water source. Ye quotes a passage in John Luff’s The Hong Kong Story describing the scene as it looked in the summer...

    • 31 ICE HOUSE STREET
      (pp. 88-90)

      Ice House Street was a hillside road located in Central. Its upper end was connected to Lower Albert Road, and it intersected with Queen’s Road at the bottom. Originally there had been an ice warehouse on this street, established in 1845, which imported natural ice blocks from America for consumption by foreigners living in Hong Kong during the summer and to provide cold storage for foodstuffs. It also supplied ice free of charge to local hospitals. Since Queen’s Road ran alongside the harbor in those days, it was convenient for ships transporting the ice to unload their cargo for storage...

    • 32 SUGAR STREET
      (pp. 91-93)

      Sugar Street was a short street located between Yee Wo Street (named after Jardine, Matheson & Co., known in Cantonese as the Yee Wo Company) and Gloucester Road in Causeway Bay (although it is so short it seems hardly worth mentioning on a map). There used to be a sugar refinery in the street, hence the name. However, the street also had an unofficial name, Silver Dollar Street, because the refinery’s forerunner on the site was a mint. In fact, the interchangeability of coinage and sugar casts an intriguing light on local historical developments.

      In 1866, the government invested $400,000...

    • 33 TSAT TSZ MUI ROAD
      (pp. 94-96)

      The story goes that Tsat Tsz Mui Road (literally, “seven sisters road”) was named after the tale of seven girls who took a vow of sisterhood. Ng Pa Ling (pen name of O Yeung Hak) describes the story in “The Legend of the Seven Sisters,” from the first volume of his Hong Kong Folktales, as “magical as well as erotic.” Once there were seven girls who were inseparable: they thought alike, they looked alike, and they loved one another dearly. They decided to make a vow to become sworn sisters and always “dress their own hair.”

      “Dress their own hair”...

    • 34 CANAL ROAD EAST AND CANAL ROAD WEST
      (pp. 97-99)

      Map readers have long felt perplexed about the existence of two parallel streets in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island, one to the east and one to the west, both almost identical in length and breadth. But you only have to look at a map of Wan Chai from 1922 or earlier to understand why the street was divided into two down the middle. You will also learn why these twin streets running in the same direction are named for a canal although there is no canal in sight. (Their name in Cantonese is an approximation of the pronunciation of...

    • 35 ALDRICH STREET
      (pp. 100-102)

      Aldrich Street was situated in Shau Kei Wan in the northeastern part of Hong Kong Island. It was named after a section of the harbor called Aldrich Bay, since one end of the street went up to the waterfront. There also used to be an Aldrich Village on the hillside at the other end of the street.

      Aldrich Bay itself was named after Major Aldrich, who after signing the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842 was sent to Hong Kong by military headquarters, charged with the task of drawing up a detailed plan for stationing a British garrison in Hong Kong....

    • 36 POSSESSION STREET
      (pp. 103-105)

      There is an extra layer of meaning to the name of Possession Street that is usually concealed by its historical significance. Its English name comes from Possession Point, where the British occupying forces first landed on Hong Kong Island’s northwestern shore. Local people called it Shui Hang Hau (literally, “the mouth of a water course”), marking the spot where a stream flowed down the hill and into the harbor.

      In January 1841, following the First Opium War, while Captain Charles Elliot, the British plenipotentiary and superintendent of trade, was negotiating the Convention of Chuanbi with Qishan, the Qing emperor’s personal...

    • 37 SYCAMORE STREET
      (pp. 106-108)

      Sycamore Street is located in Tai Kok Tsui on the Kowloon Peninsula. On the map it looks like a bow, with Maple Street intersecting it at the center of its curve, and another, smaller bow-shaped street, Willow Street, running parallel with it.

      There are several different stories about the name of this street. The generally accepted explanation is that the street was originally given its English name that was then transposed into Chinese as Si-go-mo Gai (literally, “poetry, song, and dance street”). It is said that when Tai Kok Tsui first underwent development, the authorities decided to name the newly...

    • 38 TUNG CHOI STREET AND SAI YEUNG CHOI STREET
      (pp. 109-111)

      Tung Choi Street (literally, “water spinach street”) and Sai Yeung Choi Street (watercress street) were a pair of streets of roughly equal length running side by side north to south in Mong Kok. This state of affairs, however, was a relatively late development. Tung Choi Street and Sai Yeung Choi Street actually underwent three separate stages of development, but the first two stages have almost been forgotten. The unusual relationship between the two streets allows us a glimpse of how the intrinsic quality of a place can stubbornly persist, overriding superficial changes. It also gives us an understanding of what...

    • 39 SAI YEE STREET
      (pp. 112-114)

      Sai Yee Street (literally, “laundry street”) in Mong Kok used to be a stream in the days before Mong Kok Village became urbanized. From its source in Beacon Hill to the north, its water was used to irrigate the nearby flower nurseries and vegetable gardens. In the 1920s, when the paddy fields of Mong Kok were leveled and the area was developed into a residential district, it was the custom of the inhabitants to wash their clothes and lay them out to dry at the side of the stream. Doing the laundry gradually became a specialized occupation, and many local...

    • 40 PUBLIC SQUARE STREET
      (pp. 115-117)

      Yau Ma Tei’s Public Square Street is now called Jung-fong Gai (literally, “people’s quarter street”) in Cantonese, but before the 1970s it was known as Gung-jung Sei-fong Gai (public square street, that is, “square” as in an equal-sided rectangle). Some commentators have said that gung-jung sei-fong was a mistranslation of the English term “public square” and that the correct translation should have been Gung-jung Gwong-cheung (literally, “public plaza”). The name in English referred to an empty space in the street popularly known as Banyan Head. Itinerant performers would gather there at nightfall, casting divinations and telling fortunes, or singing and...

    • 41 CEDAR STREET
      (pp. 118-119)

      It would be a mistake to believe that street names are loquacious by nature. If you open a street directory of any city in the past you will discover that the great majority of streets are silent. Such is the case with Cedar Street, a street that is hardly worth mentioning. On the map it was just a side street located between Sham Shui Po and Mong Kok in Kowloon. There was nothing about it that distinguished it among the streets in the vicinity that are named after trees. It had nothing outstanding of its own, nor did it represent...

  8. Part Four: Signs
    • 42 THE DECLINE OF THE LEGEND
      (pp. 123-125)

      In China, one of the earliest maps to use legends systematically is the Ming dynasty “Grand World Map,” published by Luo Hongxian (1504–1564) in 1555. The “Grand World Map” was Luo Hongxian’s revised and enlarged version of the Yuan magnum opus “World Map” by Zhu Siben (1273–1337). Its legend divides urban areas into three levels, using white squares to show cities at the prefectural level, white lozenges for the district level, and white circles for the county level. It also uses white triangles for military post stations and black squares for transport stations and so on. In addition,...

    • 43 THE EYE OF THE TYPHOON
      (pp. 126-128)

      “Hong Kong Buying from the World,” published by the Hong Kong Survey and Mapping Office in 1987, generated a fairly intense dispute among economist and climatologist map readers. It is a world map of the five continents, whose most prominent feature is its broad arrow lines that stretch from every country across the world, pointing in beautiful shades of purple toward an all but invisible city off the coast of the South China Sea. These complex arrows are vectors indicating by means of gradations in width and hue the quality and direction of the flow of commodities. The tail of...

    • 44 CHEK LAP KOK AIRPORT
      (pp. 129-131)

      The secret of the Chek Lap Kok Airport plan is now beyond the reach of anyone to uncover. The only clue that remains to us is a blueprint drawn up in 1990 of Hong Kong’s seaport and airport development, called “Construction for the Future.” This blueprint, which displays the development of port facilities in Hong Kong at the end of the twentieth century, includes sea-lane plans, container wharves expansion, and harbor reclamation projects. It also outlines the so-called new airport plan in documents and records, that is, the enormous concept that begins with the new Chek Lap Kok location of...

    • 45 THE METONYMIC SPECTRUM
      (pp. 132-134)

      Reading a map of land use in Hong Kong drawn up in 1987 can help us gain a deeper understanding of the metonymic possibilities allowed by color distribution. From the explanation given in the map legend, we learn that the separate land uses represented by different colors were as follows: red for commercial districts; orange for public housing estates; dark brown for high-density residential districts; light brown for low-density residential districts; purple for industrial districts; blue for government and communal public facilities (including schools, hospitals, and communications facilities); green for entertainment and recreational areas; yellow for cemeteries and crematoria; white...

    • 46 THE ELEVATION OF IMAGINATION
      (pp. 135-137)

      From the development of elevation topography in the Hong Kong region, we can understand clearly how a place might not be willing to accept the limitations of flat surfaces, pulling away from the mediocrity that cannot permit height. What is meant by elevation is the vertical distance along a vertical line from the standard level of the earth, also known as height above sea level or true height; and what is meant by that level is the mean sea level. In other words, elevation means transcending the level.

      Prior to the map in the 1819 San-on County Gazetteer, the maps...

    • 47 GEOLOGICAL DISCRIMINATION
      (pp. 138-140)

      From a geological map of Hong Kong completed in 1986 by the Geotechnical Engineering Office, we can find clues about the exploration of indigenous culture that was supposed to have been ardently pursued in Hong Kong in the 1980s and 1990s. In this geological map (identified by serial number 11), whose scope covers Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula, the geological formations shown in the map can be roughly divided into four kinds: (1) igneous rock (indicated on the map by colors in shades of crimson), which is concentrated in central and northern Hong Kong Island and the main...

    • 48 NORTH-ORIENTED DECLINATION
      (pp. 141-144)

      If we view maps as the perplexed expression of people’s search for direction and their own position, then it follows that we believe the directional indicator on a map is like the North Star, indicating by its radiance (which although not necessarily overwhelmingly lustrous is nonetheless honest and reliable) the road leading to existence or extinction to each person who has gone astray. In fact, in the history of cartography, directional signs or compass images have taken magnificent forms, bestowed on them by cartographers blessed with a vivid imagination, such as star shapes, spearheads, or ship’s anchors; but decorativeness in...

    • 49 THE TRAVEL OF NUMBERS
      (pp. 145-147)

      Archaeologists have made an attempt to re-create Hong Kong’s urban appearance on the basis of a tourist map dated 1997. The map marks the main tourist attractions, such as scenic spots, art galleries, museums, open-air markets, entertainment areas, parks, and communication facilities, using numbered red circles; further, green circles show cinemas and theaters, and blue ones show hotels. Since tourist maps cover the main cityscape, representing a mode of that city’s self-imaging and also carrying value judgments in regard to its geographical landmarks, archaeologists believe that tourist maps can to some degree reflect the true circumstances of a place. Using...

    • 50 THE TOMB OF SIGNS
      (pp. 148-150)

      The only intact set of Hong Kong digital map materials still in existence is the one purchased by a businessman in 1997 from the Information Center of the Lands Department’s Survey and Mapping Office. This set of materials is based on more than three thousand geomorphological map sheets on a scale of 1:1,000 resulting from surveys from the 1970s on and frequently updated and revised, so as to follow up geomorphological changes with the greatest speed.

      The main advantage of this set of digital maps is that it can simultaneously mark different landform material using more than eighty signs. In...

    • 51 THE ORBIT OF TIME
      (pp. 151-154)

      Map archaeologists discovered in a book entitled The 1997 Hong Kong Street Directory & Guide a map that traces the orbit of time. This discovery delivered a ground-shaking tremor in regard to the firmly established concept of maps as spatial representations. Behind all map production is an assumption of frozen time, and on the assumption of “an eternal present tense” the state and appearance of the earth’s surface are depicted “at a certain moment of time.” This assumption simultaneously repudiates time and expels it from maps. Even if a time-related notation were to be made on a map (for example,...

  9. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 155-156)
  10. Author and Translators
    (pp. 157-158)