Lost in Transmission. Maps of Japan by Daikokuya Kōdayū 大黒 屋 光太夫 (1751-1828) - HAL-SHS - Sciences de l'Homme et de la Société Access content directly
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Lost in Transmission. Maps of Japan by Daikokuya Kōdayū 大黒 屋 光太夫 (1751-1828)


The maps of Japan by Daikokuya Kōdayū (1751 – 1828) were drawn during the author’s detention in Russia (1783-1792). Though rooted in Japanese cartographic tradition, they do not copy any known map of Japan. Being created for “foreign” usage, they are filled out by translations and comments. All the maps are large format coloured manuscripts (ca. 65-75x120-150 cm) and resemble each other, but are not identical. Kōdayū was the captain of a Japanese ship, which was wrecked on the coast of Amchitka in 1783. In 1788, in Irkutsk Kōdayū met the investigator of Siberia, Erik Laxman (1737-1796), who in 1791 accompanied him to St. Petersburg to seek permission for him to return to Japan. This he did in 1792, with ten different maps, though not by himself. The afterlife of the Kōdayū maps is not less dramatic. Three have been known since the end of the 18th century as part of Georg Thomas von Asch’s (1729-1807) donations to the University of Göttingen. Four other copies have been discovered in the last twenty-five years in the archives of the ex-USSR. In contrast to the life story of Kōdayū, studies of his maps are still scarce and fragmentary. Firstly, we shall determine when and where Kōdayū could have made his maps and compare the material attributes and general characteristics of the extant copies (dimensions, types of paper, layout, general configuration of the maps, language and arrangement of translations and comments). These simple criteria allow one to determine a filiation of the copies and highlight the “outstanding” cases. Then we shall trace the afterlife of the maps, with special emphasis on the Asch Collection, where the Kōdayū maps are a part of other manuscripts by him, as well as a series of other cartographic items, where the circulation of items is precisely documented in Asch’s letters. The focus of our study is to analyse why such an interesting multi-lingual diachronic enterprise of drawing and translating a map of Japan for the benefit of the Russian state failed, having immediately been sent away to Germany as part of curiosities or simply forgotten.
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halshs-04373282 , version 1 (04-01-2024)


  • HAL Id : halshs-04373282 , version 1


Vera Dorofeeva-Lichtmann, Ekaterina Simonova-Gudzenko. Lost in Transmission. Maps of Japan by Daikokuya Kōdayū 大黒 屋 光太夫 (1751-1828). eds. Antje Flüchter, Andreas Gipper, Susanne Greilich and Hans-Jürgen Lüsebrink. ÜBERSETZUNGSPOLITIKEN IN DER FRÜHEN NEUZEIT / TRANSLATION POLICY AND THE POLITICS OF TRANSLATION IN THE EARLY MODERN PERIOD, In press, 2661-8109. ⟨halshs-04373282⟩
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