A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Ming-Qing Hui Merchants and their Route Maps and Manuals (WANG Zhenzhong)
Abstract: The earliest merchant route books or manuals date from the Southern Song period (1127 – 1279), however they were only produced in large numbers after the 16th century. Judging from the extant exemplars most of these route books were compiled by Hui or Shanxi merchants. During their annual travels and trading Hui merchants composed, revised and recopied many route manuals. These manuals record the distances between named stops along a route, the condition of roads and waterways, the security situation, local products and customs, scenic spots and historic sites, and the procedures for the payment of tolls and customs duties. This information is extremely useful for research on the history of trade, on social history, and on the geography of historical transport routes. This talk will bring together some ten merchant travel route books from both public and private collections to analyse the differences between the various printed editions and manuscripts as well as to discuss the formation and evolution of merchant route maps and route songs.