Colonial Cartography tools
Color-coded illustration of "prevailing languages" from Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909 Edition
Maps and the making of maps are crucial to the study of colonialism in South Asia. Maps not only make narrative descriptions of a place more comprehensible and compelling but also can provide significant evidence for understanding the creators of those maps. For these reasons, the addition of the three important cartographic resources to the Digital South Asia Library will benefit the study of colonialism in the region.
Hunter, William W., James S. Cotton, Richard Burn and William S. Meyer, eds. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1909.
Hunter, William W., James S. Cotton, Richard Burn and William S. Meyer, eds, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931.
Schwartzberg, Joseph E. 2nd impression, with additional material. New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Imperial Gazetteer of India Atlas Volumes
The first edition of the Imperial Gazetteer of India published in 1881 was immediately hailed as a monumental accomplishment. With little exaggeration the Times proclaimed the nine volumes produced under the editorship of William Wilson Hunter as, “the completion of the largest national enterprise in statistics which has ever been undertaken.”1 Yet very soon thereafter nine volumes were considered insufficient to describe the scope and complexity of India to the British public. Even after increasing to 14 volumes in the second edition of 1887, the gazetteer was soon again found lacking in important ways. This dissatisfaction was due in part to the almost complete absence in the work of cartographic representations to accompany the complex cavalcade of essays and statistics presented to the readers. Contemporary critics observed that the 14 volumes of the second edition contained only, “a single map showing the whole of India on a very small scale.”2
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The Piri Reis map dated 1513 and it is the first surviving map that shows the Americas. The Piri Reis map shows the western coast of Africa, the eastern coast of South America, and the northern coast of Antarctica. The northern coastline of Antarctica is perfectly detailed. The most puzzling however is not so much how Piri Reis managed to draw such an accurate map of the Antarctic region 300 years before it was discovered, but that the map shows the coastline under the ice.
The Piri Reis map was made by a Turkish Admiral Piri Ibn Haji Mehmed. Reis means admiral. His passion was cartography
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