D.卡尔顿 罗西
D. Carlton Rossi




One might recapitulate at this point. Historians concentrated on the uniqueness of the compass and ruler at the top of the Selden Map. It was noted that it was unusual to have these western instruments painted on a Chinese map. The set of rectangles posed a mystery to them. There was little reason to draw a straight line going west and east through the center of the compass. The poet also initially took this view. However, he realized that if such a straight line were drawn then it could represent a latitudinal coordinate. More importantly, the east location was actually touching the set of rectangles. To make a long story short, he identified the physical locations of Lake Baikal and Tèlín, associated them with Kun and Peng and then investigated successfully if special longitudinal coordinates were also manifest and the rest as they say is history.

The author wishes at this point to transition gradually along the 53rd degree of latitude from the north-east section of the Selden Map where Peng is located to the north-west section where Kun is located. One might consider it as a kind of journey to the west. Firstly, Peng and Kun will be looked at briefly with respect to their role as markers. Then, their longitudinal aspects will be examined. Next, the history of the north-east Amur Region will be outlined mainly in terms of military expeditions, but also touching on trade and religious aspects. Pilgrim's progress will be made along the latitudinal line through the center of the compass rose from which zodiacal lines radiate. Finally, the destination of Kun will be achieved where it will be defined and from which Chinese zodiacal symbols are revealed.

The Peng and Kun will now be examined as markers. However, historians have been unaware of these markers up to this point. The reasons are many. The most important is that The Selden Map has been buried for centuries so to speak in a vault. It was only unearthed when it was realized that it had relevance to the South China Sea dispute and whether or not the sea was open or closed. It was also realized that the scholar and jurist whose name was John Selden (who happened to be the leading intellectual at the time) had owned the map and bequeathed it to the Bodleian Library at Oxford. By remarkable "coincidence" he was an expert on the issue of open and closed seas around England.

These circumstances meant that when scholars examined the map they were mainly interested in maritime trade routes going north-south. They were also interested in the map because China has made a claim to the sea, built islands within it and are enforcing their claim not according to international law as would have been the choice of Selden but by the force of their navy. Lastly, they concentrated on the map because the South China Sea has become one of the most busy and congested sea lanes in the world and has earned the sobriquet "Bermuda Triangle".

Historians were aware of land routes along the Silk Roads to India which were used for trade at least from the time of the Tang Dynasty and used by Buddhists to access original, scrolled scripts. However, the importance of the land aspects to the map and its west-east routes seem to have been downplayed as they concentrated on maritime trade routes. They did not look in depth at how to integrate historical aspects of maritime and land routes.

If an holistic approach is not taken then it will be difficult to understand the current One Belt One Road initiative of the People's Republic of China which involves land and sea trade routes. It also means that China must fully realize that the success of its historical, land and maritime trade strategy was tempered by spiritual aspects. It was more of an open, free and enlightened system. The Tang Emperor may have forbade travel outside of the Empire because the dynasty was mired in territorial war, but the Buddhist monk ignored this injunction on his quest for spiritual enlightenment and was rewarded by the Emperor on his return primarily because trade was opened.

It is not absolutely necessary to have complete understanding of the cultural aspects of Peng and Kun as they pertain to Buddhist, Confucian and Daoist principles, the Chinese zodiac, the fictional novel called Journey to the West, history or poetry. The poet himself is disinclined to translate the Selden Poems expressed as images derived from the map. However, some understanding of all of these things did help to facilitate the discovery of Kun and Peng as markers and will help to elucidate their full significance. The Kun and Peng markers define the sea and land territory of China at the time of the Selden Map. The land marker called Peng at the confluence of the Amur and Amgun Rivers was upstream from what was referred to as the East Sea. The sea marker called Kun can be correlated with Lake Baikal which was known as the North Sea. It is argued therefore that these locations must be considered in terms of both maritime and land boundaries.

To support the contention that Lake Baikal (Kun) and 特林 Tèlín (Peng) were territorial markers on the Selden Map is not a difficult task. At both physical locations, in the west and east, monuments were erected in the Han and Ming Dynasties respectively. Of course, monuments are not necessarily markers, but one can safely assume that when they are erected immediately after major wars at or near the sites that they primarily serve as territorial markers.

                                         Yuan Dynasty

With respect to the east, the Yuan Dynasty under the Monguls (according to the History of Yuan) set up a "Command Post of the Marshal of the Eastern Campaign" near the modern settlement of Tyr in 1263. It was the Nivkhs of the "wild Jurchen" (Nivkhs, Oroch, Evenki) who recognized Mongol sovereignty. It was around this time that a shrine was built on the modern day Tyr Rock.

                                         Ming Dynasty


The poet believes this monument with stelae resembles a depiction of the five elements as described by Chan Zen Buddhism. In that case, the void is represented at the top.


                 The smaller monument with Chinese script only

The Nurgan Regional Military Commission whose mandate covered the lower Amur River region and Sakhalin was set up in 1409 during the Ming Dynasty. Shortly thereafter General Ishiha (亦失哈) on behalf of the Ming as a Haixi Jurchen led four major invasions (and probably smaller ones) between 1411 and 1433. Just as the military talent of the Xiongnu had been used in the Han army to fight the enemy, so, too, were the talents of a Haixi Jurchen used to subjugate the wild Jurchen.


                                       Map of Ming Empire


Ishiha stayed for nearly a year at Tèlín (特林) where in 1413 he commissioned the Buddhist Yongning Temple (Temple of Eternal Tranquility). He erected a stele (marker) at the site which was written in four languages; namely, Han, Mongolian, Jurchen and Tibetan. In Hanzi it read 唵嘛呢叭吽 which was the Buddhist chant of "Om mani padme hum". However, the shamans were not so tranquil. They burned the temple down. It was rebuilt nearby some twenty years later at Ishiha's orders. A single Chinese script of the chant was written. However, by 1435 the Ming military presence was abandoned and the commisson disbanded. Therefore, it seems the stelae did not represent a decisive victory, but figuratively the concept of peace.


The marker at Lake Baikal (贝加尔湖) also known as (Han-hai) which means 'huge lake' has already been mentioned, but it will be useful to remind the reader. The Han-Xiongnu War was a protracted conflict that lasted over 200 years. At the end of this period, the Xiongnu Federation was asked to pay tribute. When they refused the Han army completely annihilated them.


                                      Inscription of Yanran

General Dou Xian (窦宪) then led a celebratory march to present day Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia which was the center of the northern Xiongnu territory. He erected a stele in 89 CE at Mt. Yanran which is just below Lake Baikal. The inscription was written by Ban Gu who was a staff member and former Marshall of the Black Warrior Gate. That inscription is well known to Chinese as "to carve a stone on Yanran" (勒石燕然) which means to achieve a decisive victory.


                                        Han defeats Hun

Unfortunately for General Dou as soon as he turned south on his triumphal march he was heading toward his eventual downfall. It should be noted that in the year 78 CE his sister had become Empress Zhangde who was the wife of Emperor Zhang of Han. This meant that Dou's position was quite secure. However, the Empress' position changed to Empress Dowager and Regent of the ten year old Emperor He of Han. Dou was suspected of stirring revolt. As a result, he was forced to commit suicide in 92 CE. In the same year, Ban Gu lost his official position, was arrested and died in prison.

"When a fire is at its hottest point it begins to die down; when thunder drones its loudest it begins to die out. If we examine thunder and fire they will appear to be full and strong. However, the sky gathers the sound of thunder and the earth absorbs the heat of fire. Similarly, a family at the apex of fame will be spied out by the spirits."

Yang Xiong (揚雄)in his "Justification against ridicule" (解謿)

The victory though was at Lake Baikal. It was at that degree of latitude and longitude where the real markers in a Taoist sense are found which designated the end of a two hundred year war. They were markers that were not lost and found two thousand years later, but rather ones which had always been there.


                                  Location of Ogoy Island


                                Dragon Rock near Ogoy Island

First, there was the jagged formation uplifted by nature some millions of years ago in the shape of a water dragon champing on a Baikal seal. It is found near Ogoy Island in the Maloe More Straight between the Cape Shara-Shulun on the west coast of the Olkhon Island and Kurminskiy Bay on the western shore of Lake Baikal. The coordinates are 53°7′43″N 106°59′56″E.


                                          Shaman Rock

However, the more well-known marker and more easily accesible to the Han army was Shaman Rock at Cape Burkhan, Olkhan Island near the present village of Khuzhir. The latitude for Khuzhir, Irkutsk Oblast, Russia is: 53.190595 and the longitude is: 107.330684. While the Shamans keep out visitors they tell of an old legend in which a dragon swooping down from the sky and swooshing his tail creates Lake Baikal. Later in history the site was remarked to have been the burial place of Ghengis Khan.


                                             Ice Dragon

Of course, intrepid visitors who are not interested in history can see wondrous markers on Lake Baikal in the winter with temperatures -30 degrees. Gases well up from the deepest lake in the world and put pressure on the ice to form unusual shapes and colors. In the above picture the reader can imagine a jagged ice dragon surfacing.


                             Baikal Mountains and Lake Baikal

One would be remiss if not negligent to omit Lake Baikal itself as a marker of the furthest extent of Chinese territory represented on The Selden Map. The lake is so large that it was called the North Sea in Chinese. It is the largest and deepest fresh, water lake in the world. Lake Baikal has more fresh water than all the Great Lakes combined. There is the potential for it, too, to become an ocean at some point as the rift valley below it continues to open or diverges at about 3-4 mm per year.


                          Lake Baikal and associated rift basins

The Baikal Rift Zone runs northeast to southwest as another marker. It extends 1200 miles. The rift forms between the Eurasian Plate to the west and Amur Plate to the east.


                                             Amur Plate


                                             Okhotsk Plate

The large map above shows the Amurian or Amur Plate. Its French name is "Amour" while "Eurasian" is expressed as "Eurasia". The Amur Plate covers Manchuria, the Korean Peninsula, western Japan and part of southeast Russia below Lake Baikal. The smaller map provides a close up of the Okhotsk Plate as it interacts with the Amur and Eurasian Plates.

One might correctly argue that it is anachronistic to talk of plate tectonics as they apply to the design of The Selden Map in the seventeenth century. Plate tectonics were envisioned in the 1950's and the Amur Plate itself was recognized as a distinct entity only in 1982-83. One can imagine though that people could still hear rumblings and experience vibrations.

However, the poet contends that as an hypothetical example the boundary lines of plate tectonics can be used to help illustrate the relative position and location of the Kun and Fuxi markers. The Peng marker is found on the east coast of Asia approximately just below where the Eurasian plate meets the Amur plate in transformation. The Amur Plate then loops northwest and droops down to the north end of Lake Baikal. At this point, it diverges with the Eurasian Plate creating the Baikal Rift Zone with the greatest stress at the southern end of Lake Baikal.


                                          Qinghai Lake

Qinghai Lake 青海湖 is the largest lake in China. It is saline and slowly shrinking in size as many of its sources have disappeared. At the time of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) though it was called the West Sea 西海. During the 1620's the Gushri Khan and other Mongols migrated to an island in the west of the lake. The lake's co-ordinates are lat. 36.7599 and long. 100.3497. On The Selden Map, Qinghai Lake is found directly below Lake Baikal. Therefore, Qinghai Lake as the West Sea is a map marker.


                         Sun-Moon Mountain  Qinghai Province

Another important feature nearby is Sun-Moon Mountain (日月山) which is east of Qinghai Lake. The mountain separates the grassland on the west and the highland on the east. On the sixteen thousand foot mountain was located a border defense fortress between the Tang Dynasty and middle Asian countries.



The above illustration shows the connection between the Sun and Moon on The Selden Map. The line runs from the Sun on the right side to the upper right hand corner of the Northwest Rectangle through the middle of the set of smaller rectangles to the bottom of the compass and then onward to the Moon. What makes the connecting line all the more remarkable is that it parallels the line of the ruler. The full significance of the connecting line is not yet evident.


                                 Northwest Rectangle (NWR)

The reader may be aware that the lakes and seas described so far are territorial boundaries of the Han Dynasty. Lake Baikal 贝加尔湖 and Qinghai Lake 青海湖 were regarded as the North and West Sea respectively. The west boundary ran between them. In the north, the boundary ran from Lake Baikal to Tèlín 特林. The east boundary ran from Tèlín through the East Sea (Sea of Japan) to the north end of Formosa (Taiwan 中華民國) where the East China Sea meets the South China Sea 南中国海. The south boundary ran from Qinghai Lake to Quanzhou, Fujian Province which is found on the southeast coast of China. The line then went through the South Sea 南海 or (as it was called Zhang Hai 漲海 during the Han Dynasty) to Taiwan. For ease of reference the poet refers to this horizontal rectangle as the Northwest Rectangle. The Northwest Rectangle might be interpreted to be the smaller empty rectangle within the larger one at the top of The Selden Map.

                   Maritime sailing ships off the Quanzhou coast

Quanzhou 泉州市 is the southern marker of The Selden Map. The city is found at the following co-ordinates: 24°55′N 118°35′E. Quanzhou or (Zaiton as it was known during the Song Dynasty) received an international trade bureau at the end of the eleventh century. This propelled its growth to the extent that it quickly surpassed in terms of volume the overland trade routes. During the Yuan Dynasty the Mongols used Zaitan as a naval base against Japan. Its prosperity though declined due to various factors in the 13th century.

It seems the basic Han boundary lines were followed in the Ming dynasty as evidenced on The Selden Map. For example, the Yuan and Ming did try to establish a presence on Sakhalin Island which was just outside the eastern boundary. However, they failed to maintain it. This may explain why Sakhalin does not appear on The Seldon Map. There was no victory celebrated.

It is not surprising that rejuvenated Han lines might be used in the Ming period because they represented defensive demarcations against the northern tribes which remained a persistent problem. Also, just before the time of The Selden Map, there was a romantic and popular revival of the myth of the western journey and pilgrimmage through the publication of novels such as Journey to the West.


                                           Cross references

Perspective is also a matter off importance. These boundary lines follow long, latitudinal and longitudinal meridians. For example, the Tèlín-Quanzhou line might be seen as representational of the eastern boundary line. On the other hand, Tèlín (特林) itself might specifically refer to the East, Qinghai Lake as West, Quanzhou as South and Lake Baikal as North. There is a kind of balance in the directions with a lake called a sea (N) and an actual sea (S) as well as a lake called a sea (W) and an actual sea (E).

It is clear that if Lake Baikal is to represent North on The Selden Map then a problem is evident. The reason is that it is not either at geographical north nor magnetic north. It really represents the Northwest. In one way, this is symbolic. The most important direction concerning trade was Northwest because that was the beginning of overland trade on the Silk Roads during the Eastern Han Dynasty.

Keep in mind though that Lake Baikal is a very special location in terms of magnetic north. This is because below Lake Baikal is a rift valley. For example, if one uses an unweighted compass off the coast of Japan it does not point North but rather to Lake Baikal. It may very well be that if an unweighted compass were used at Dunhuang which is located at the beginning of the old Silk Roads then it may have "inclined downward" to the rift valley sandwiched between the core and Lake Baikal rather than to magnetic north.


                                        Luoyang Bridge

If one wishes to be absolutely logically consistent then one must choose a marker within Quanzhou. There is no argument as to what that marker would be. It is Luoyang Bridge. This stone bay bridge runs north-south for 731.29 meters. Bridge construction began in 1053 during the reign of Qingli in the Northern Song Dynasty. It is known as one of the four ancient bridges of China.



A critic will point out though that that the southeast corner of the NWR can actually be found in the middle of Taiwan. The marker might be Mt. Yushan (玉山) which is literally Jade Mountain. When covered with snow it appears as pure jade. The mountain rises 3952 meters and the ocean depth off the east coast falls 4000 meters as the Eurasian Plate slids over the neighboring Philippine Sea Plate. The meridian co-ordinates for Yushan are 23° 28′ 12″ N, 120° 57′ 26.16″ E.

However, given a choice between Quanzhou and Mt.Yushan it is hands-down for Quanzhou. There are several historical reasons. First, Quanzhou was the start of the Maritime Silk Road and it can be argued that it was either the largest or second largest international port.

Second, the Mongol Empire had unified nomadic tribes of the steppes (descendants of those who had fought the Han during the Han-Xiongnu War for 200 years). Scholars hold the view that the Xiongnu were either proto-Mongols or more likely a multi-ethnic group of Mongolic and Turkic tribes. (wiki/Mongols). The nomadic Mongols conquered three Chinese empires; namely, western Xia, Jin and Song. With the collapse of the Song Dynasty, Muslims traders moved to Quanzhou in 1278 and helped establish a vibrant center of international trade.

Third, the Chinese boundaries and markers were to define territory which were generally speaking to be protected against the Xiongnu confederation in Han times, their descendants in times following and Mongolian peoples from the steppes in latter times. For example, Mongolic Xianbei migrated to the area around Lake Qinghai in the third century CE. They established the Tuyuhun Kingdom. Later, it was attacked by the Tang in order to gain control of trade routes. The Song defeated the Tibetan Kokonor Kingdom in the 1070s. It then came under the administrative rule of the Yuan. For a short time, it also came under Ming control.

Finally, one must consider the Northwest Rectangle which may be discerned within the larger rectangle of The Selden Map with respect to brotherhood. To paraphrase Confucius "All within the Four Seas are one's brother." In other words, ren never stops at the doorway of the home.

D.卡尔顿 罗西
D. Carlton Rossi


revised February 12, 2018