1902 Encyclopedia > Geography > Survey of China. Missions to Tibet. Van de Putte. Persia. India.

Geography
(Part 32)



Survey of China. Missions to Tibet. Van de Putte. Persia. India.

The most remarkable example of the early application of these improvements is to be found in the survey of China by the Jesuit missionaries. They first prepared a map of the country round Peking, which was submitted to the emperor Kang-hi, and, being satisfied with the accuracy of the European method of surveying, he resolved to have a survey made of the whole empire on the same principles. This great work was commenced in July 1708, and the completed maps were presented to the emperor in 1718. The records preserved in each city were examined, topographical information was diligently collected, and the Jesuit fathers checked their triangulation by meridian altitudes of the sun and pole star, and by a system of remeasurements. The result was a more accurate map of China than existed, at that time, of any country in Europe. Kang-hi next ordered a similar map to be made of Tibet, the survey being executed by two lamas who were carefully trained as surveyors by the Jesuits at Peking. From these surveys were constructed the well-known maps which were forwarded to Duhalde, and from which D’Anville constructed his atlas.

Several European missionaries had previously found their way from India to Tibet. Antonio Andrada, in 1624, was the first European to enter Tibet since the visit of Friar Odoric in 1325. The next journey was that of Fathers Grueber and Dorville about 1660, who succeeded in passing from China, through Tibet, into India. In 1715 Fathers Desideri and Freyre made their way from Agra, across the Himálayas, to Lassa [Lhasa], the capital of Tibet; and the Capuchin Friar Orazio della Penna resided at Lassa [Lhasa] from 1735 until 1747.

But the most remarkable journey in this direction was performed by a Dutch traveler named Samuel Van de Putte. He is the only European who has ever completed the journey from India, through Lassa [Lhasa], to China, and returned to India by the same route. He left Holland in 1718, went by land through Persia to India, and eventually made his way to Lassa [Lhasa], where he resided for a long time. He went thence to China, returned to Lassa [Lhasa], and was in India in time to be an eye-witness of the sack of Delhi by Nadir Shah in 1737. In 1743 he left India, and died at Batavia on the 17th of September 1745. The premature death of this illustrious traveller is the more to be lamented because his vast knowledge died with him.

Two English missions sent by Warren Hastings to Tibet, one led by Mr George Bogle in 1774, and the other by Captain Turner in 1783, completed the list of Tibetan explorers in the 18th century.

From Persia much new information was supplied by Chardin, Tavernier, Hamilton, Thevenot, and Krusinski, and by English traders on the Caspian. In 1738 John Elton traded between Astrakhan and the Persian port of Enzelî on the Caspian, and undertook to build a fleet for Nadir Shah.

Another English merchant, named Jonas Hanway, arrived at Astrabad from Russia, and traveled to the camp of Nadir at Kazvin. One lasting and valuable result of Hanway’s wanderings was a most charming book of travels.

The extension of the dominions of the Company largely increased the knowledge of India. In 1700 Guillaume Delisle, the principal creator of the modern system of geography, published his map of the continents of the Old World; and his successor D’Anville produced his map of India in 1752.

D’Anville’s map contained all that was then known, but ten years afterwards Major Rennell commenced his surveying labours, which extended over a period from 1763 to 1782. His survey covered an area 900 miles long by 300 wide, from the eastern confines of Bengal to Agra, and from the Himálayas to Calpi. Rennell was indefatigable in collecting geographical information; his Bengal atlas appeared in 1781, his famous map of India in 1788, and the memoir in 1792.

Surveys were also made along the Indian coasts, and the charts of Huddert, Ritchie, and McCluer were the forerunners of the more accurate and elaborate productions of the succeeding century.





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