the power of maps

Once I thought learning was a multifold experience and I would not refuse to travel [even] ten thousand Li to be able to question wise men and visit celebrated countries. But how long is a man’s life? It is certain that many years are needed to acquire a complete science, based on a vast number of observations: and that’s where one becomes old without the time to make use of this science. Is this not a painful thing?

And this is why I put great store by [geographical] maps and history: history for fixing [these observations], and maps for handing them on [to future generations].

Respectfully written by the European Matteo Ricci on 17 August, 1602

inscription on 1602 Geographical map by Matteo Ricci, translation by Pasquale M. d’Elia


map of hangzhou’s west lake

When you’re traveling, and find yourself somewhere unfamiliar, perhaps mixed up inside the depths of a train station or on the rainy curb of a darkening street, is there any sight more welcome than a map? A map is orientation, information, history of a place, and art. It knows that you might be lost, and how to guide you where you want to go.

The wistful quote above from Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci turned up while researching his time in Beijing. In the late 16th century, he came from Italy to Macau as a Catholic missionary, and created the first map of the world to unite European discoveries with East Asian cartography. His studies and life in China are a touchstone for many expats living in the Middle Kingdom. In his words above reverberate the reasons why maps are so important to travelers and anyone studying the cultures of the world. This is why each map inside China Tea Leaves is designed to be clear, helpful, and beautiful. China Tea Leaves lets you take maps of your destination with you on your iPad, and is an elegant, interactive experience that responds to your finger tap.

Download a China Tea Leaves guide for your next China trip and discover a new way of getting around China’s amazing places.

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