Carte Routière de L’Indochine Offerte par L’Union Commerciale Indochinoise et Africaine.
L’Union Commerciale Indochinoise et Africaine.
Published c. 1928, Paris
Size: 36.5” X 28.75”
Condition: Segmented and backed on linen with ink based manuscript markings on the coast.
A rare and visually pleasing road map of French Indochina. The dating of this map comes from one of the advertising insets that mentions a judgement from February 8th,1928 regarding the use of the Pernod Fils trademark.
The area depicted is bordered by China, Burma, the former kingdom of Siam which includes Bangkok. French Indochina was part France’s colonial outpost in Southeast Asia that included Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia until its demise in 1954. The French presence in the region dates from 1862 when they annexed Cochinchina in the South. France would later consolidate their power and influence in Southeast Asia by integrating the Northern region of Vietnam including the city of Hanoï with the Tonkin Campaign in 1885 within the greater framework of the Sino-French War and thus giving France a strategic access to the Chinese market. With France’s victory over China in the Sino-French War, French Indochina was formed on October 17, 1887 that included the regions of Annam, Tonkin, and Cochinchina, which now form modern Vietnam. The respective Kingdoms of Cambodia and Laos were later added to the sphere of control within Indochina with the end of the Franco-Siamese War in 1893.
The map is of interest beyond the visual imagery of the advertising insets that surround the cartographic image because of the historical context in which it was published. The map was actually published at a time of delicate geo-political negotiations between France and the Kingdom of Siam, on one hand, and of rising internal tensions within Indochina beginning with the Yên Bái Muntiny in 1930. The negotiations with the Kingdom of Siam was related to the repatriation of certain territory that included Angkor Wat back to Siamese control. The Yên Bái Mutiny was a mutiny by Vietnamese soldiers within a colonial garrison, that was instigated by the Vietnamese Nationalist Party who’s aim was to inspire a greater popular uprising against the French colonial authority. This Colonial authority would eventually end in 1954 when France withdrew from the region permanently.
As such, this visual striking map is important in that it provides the viewer the sense that all is well in the territory of Indochina. The advertising insets focus on mostly leisure items. The reality, however, is such that underlying forces are gathering which will eventually redraw the political boundaries and colonial influence through uprisings and war.