A Map and History of Peiping, formerly known as Peking; capital provinces, princedoms, and kingdoms since 1121 B.C. ...
Published 1936, Tientsin-Peiping (China)
Size: 32 1/4" X 27"
A majestic and important map of Beijing first published in 1936 that stands at the apex of the golden age of pictorial cartography in the early to mid 20th Century.
Frank Dorn’s work was greatly influenced by the work of Jo Mora, another giant of pictorial cartography.
Dorn began work on this map when living China from 1934 to 1939 while studying Chinese and working as an American army attaché focused on Japanese aggression against China. Dorn has written that “after over two months of steady work, the map was reproduced in large numbers by the German-owned Peiyang Press of Tientsin. They also printed it on silk scarves that were lapped up by tourists.”
Dorn’s map became an iconic image of this important city and it has been argued that “his purpose in producing it was likely to instruct his fellow Americans in China on the history and culture of the imperial capital.” Vignettes adorn the map and offers the viewer an unparalleled depiction of the city sights, population and tourist attractions such as hotels, clubs, souvenir shops, etc.
Of particular interest with the present example of this map is the inclusion of the Nazi flag in the legation district. The inclusion of the Nazi flag indicates that it is a later state, yet as important in providing a glimpse of international affairs that were to affect the region shortly after its initial publication in 1936.
The Nazi flag became the sole national flag of Germany in September 1935 until the end of the Second World War in 1945. Although the start of the Second World War is usually deemed to have started in 1939 in the European theatre of war, the events that were occurring in Asia are as important to the understanding of the complexities of the causes of this global conflict. An array treaties and alliances between powers in Asia created the conditions to conflict and ultimately led to the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 which initially pitted China and Japan against each other, but ultimately ended in 1945 with participation of the Soviet Union and the United States.
Frank Dorn’s important map which was originally produced for tourists, in effect, offers an important view of one of the great world cities that predates great political, social and military upheaval brought upon the conflicts surrounding the Second World War. It is an image of innocence and playfulness, but with an underlying reality of conflict and change.
(Sources: DK Publishing Inc., Great City Maps, Tongyun Yin, A Cartographic Portrait of Early Republican Beijing: Frank Dorn’s 1936 Map of Peiping.)