A 17th century world map with China at its centre, is on display at the Library of Congress in Washington. Printed on rice paper, the map was created by Italian missionary Matteo Ricci in 1602. It is rarely displayed and, because of its fragility, is called the “Impossible Black Tulip of Cartography”.
Ricci created the map at the request of the Chinese Emperor Wanli.
In October 2009, the James Ford Bell Trust purchased the map from Ricci’s descendents for a million US dollars, making it the second-most expensive rare map ever sold.The map shows parts of the world with annotations and pictures. Chih-Li is Chile, Wa-ti-ma-la is Guatemala and Ka-na-ta, Canada.
Ricci was revered by the Chinese, and lies buried in Beijing.
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