Chinese Contribution: Geographical Thought: Evolution and Early Developments

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Geographical Thought - China

  • geology, between 200 and 1500 A.D. Pei Xiu (third century) is known as the “father of China”.

  • Paper

  • Compass

  • Mapping ability – coordinates & mapping ability

  • Marco Polo – book as imaginary experience


  • Warring States – 7 Qin State Map

  • Han Dynasty

  • 3 Kingdoms

  • Liu Song Dynasty

  • Tang Dynasty

  • Song Dynasty

  • Yuan

  • Ming

  • Qing

Early Developments

  • Yu Kung (Tribute of Yu) inside the Shu Ching (Historical Classic) dating from the fifth century B.C.

  • Chou Empire

  • Physical topography

  • 9 regions and trademarks

Needham and Wang Ling (1970) - 5 Chinese Topography

  • Anthropological geographies (known as Chih Kung Thu), dating from the mid-sixth century A.D.

  • Depictions of the society traditions of the nations toward the south of China (Feng Thu Chi) and portrayals of new districts (I Wu Chih) both dating from the second century A.D.

  • Hydrographic books and coastal descriptions (for example, the Shui Ching).

  • Nearby geologies or gazetteers, for example, the Hua Yang Kuo Chih (Historical Geography of Szechuan) which were for the most part composed from the fourth century A.D. onwards.

  • Geographical encyclopedias books accumulated from the Chin tradition (third and fourth hundreds of years A.D.) onwards, in a style like that of Strabo.


  • The Kai Thien theory which conceived the sky as a side of the equator covering the earth which was formed like an improved bowl.

  • The Hun Thien School, which related with the Greek perspective on superb circles rotating round the globe.

  • The Hsuan Yeh instructing which imagined a limitless space wherein the grand bodies coasted unreservedly about.


  • Philosopher

  • Confucianism

  • Family, mankind, social bonds

  • Private institutes for rich & poor

  • center around meritocracy

  • 4 books and 5 classics

Zhang Heng and Phei Hsiu (Astronomer & Cartographer)

  • Cartography on rectangular coordinates

  • Heng – gadgets to recognize tremors & seismometer

  • Yi-Fu Tuan – human topography & originator of humanistic geology

  • Su Song - arithmetic, stargazing, cartography, geology, horology, metallurgy, zoology, herbal science, pharmacology

  • Chu Ssu-Pen – data for unification of Mongols in Asia, cartography

  • In 1579, Luo Hongxian published the Guang Yutu atlas, including more than 40 maps, a grid system, and a systematic way of representing major landmarks such as mountains, rivers, roads and borders.


  • The Geographical Society of China is one of the earliest established academic societies in China. Her predecessor is the Geoscience Society of China organized by Zhang Xiangwen in Tianjin in 1909.

  • In 1934, Zhu Kezhen, a well-known scientist, founded the Geographical Society of China in Nanjing.

  • At the founding of the P.R.China, the two organizations were merged into the current Geographical Society of China in 1950.

  • 20000 members and 31 provinces

  • In 1949, the Society joined the International Geographical Union (IGU). In 1983, the Glaciology & Geocryology BS joined the International Permafrost Association (IPA). In 1989, the Geomorphology & Quaternary Studies SC joined the International Association for Geomorphologist (IAG).

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