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A Humorous Diplomatic Atlas of Europe and Asia. / 滑稽欧亜外交地図 / Kokkei Ō-A Gaikō Chizu.
Composed at the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War (1904 – 1905), the map was modeled on a famous illustration by the British cartoonist Frederick W. Rose, the 'Black Octopus' that had been produced earlier in the Nineteenth Century.
Commenting on the print, Kisaburo Ohara is reported to have said that 'the black octopus stretches out his eight arms in all directions, and seizes up everything that comes within his reach', and 'the continuing existence of the black octopus will depend entirely upon how he comes out of this war'.
He predicted that the 'Japanese army is about to win a signal victory over Russia in Korea and Manchuria, so wait & see!'
The first edition of this Japanese map was published on February 23, 1904 (this third edition was published in April of the same year), and the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War was on February 8th. It was published only two weeks after the war began, so we can assume that the topic was highly popular.
It has been argued by New York collector P. J. Mode, and others that this map was probably intended for an English as much as a Japanese audience. He reminds us that the Russo-Japanese war was primarily a naval engagement. The map warned the British to stay out of the war.
In terms of the geographical representation of central Asia, it is noteworthy that China's borders are not that of Qing China but are severely limited, excluding Chinese claims to Tibet and Turkestan.
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