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Lost In Translation: Gridded Plans And Maps Along The Silk Road

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Chapter Summary

Paper, a suspension of cellulose fibers collected on a screen and dried into a mat, was invented in China a few centuries before Christ. In the Islamic lands, the ready availability of paper led to the transformation of Islamic culture. The earliest known gridded architectural plans on paper from the Islamic lands are several drawings that have been attributed by Soviet scholars to an Uzbek master builder. The drawings comprise several grid?based ground plans and projections for muqarnas vaults, as well as patterns for the two-dimensional geometric ornamentation typical of the Islamic architecture of Central Asia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Various different types of maps have been known in China from the earliest times, some with grids and many more without them. The first known Chinese map on a square grid is the Yuji tu, carved in stone in 1136 and again in 1142.

Keywords: Central Asia; China; gridded architectural plans; Islamic lands; maps; paper



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