Unrecorded anthropomorphic map from the Russo Japanese War

Lithograph printed in color, 15”h x 21”w at neat line plus ample margins.

A previously unrecorded Meiji 37 or 1904 anthropomorphic propaganda map celebrating Japan’s victory in the Russo Japanese War. 

This map was issued in May 28 of 1904, immediately following Japan’s successful bombardment and siege of Russian-held Port Arthur (Dalian).  This is the second of four Japanese anthropomorphic maps associated with the Russo-Japanese war, predated only by Kisaburō Ohara’s April 1904 A Humorous Diplomatic Atlas of Europe and Asia.

Unlike Ohara’s map, which was issued during the Siege of Port Arthur, this map postdates the siege by nearly a month.  Here Russia is represented by a gigantic yellow tree, weeping copiously even as its tentacle-like roots extend into Europe and Asia.  Japan, from its island stronghold, hacks at Russia’s roots with a broadaxe, doing serious damage in the vicinity of Port Arthur.   Throughout Europe and Asia Japanese flags and Imperial Naval ensigns are being waved in celebration of the Japanese victory. The exceptions are Germany, which as a Russian ally is waving the Russian naval ensign, and Denmark, which waves a Swiss flag indicating its neutrality.  To the East China claps its hands and childishly sticks out its tongue in the direction of Russia.

While the large block of English text at lower left suggests the map was intended for both Western and Japanese audiences, it is so poorly written that we can safely assume the map never developed a following in Europe.

“The, in appearance, terrifying and strong Russia was toppled in the Russo-Japan war like limbs falling off a large tree where the trunk was rotten to the core. As a result, the countries of Finland and Poland are rejoicing. France, who has been investing in Russia, has pulled back their bank and currently re-considering their policy. All other countries are in sympathy with the power and strong obligation of Japan, are rejoicing over the results of the Russo-Japan war, and are very grateful. Japan’s ‘god’ warriors tore limbs off the big tree and it will not be long before “its breath is stopped.” It is a very refreshing feeling indeed.”

Though this is obviously difficult to interpret, the artist may have wished to suggest that Russia, having been defeated by Japan, was suffering an existential crisis—a suggestion certainly born out by events of the Russian Revolution.  More broadly, this was also the first time in modern history that a European power suffered a major defeat at the hands of an East Asian nation. In this context, the artist seems to be suggesting that the victory compelled European nations to acknowledge Japan’s position as a world power.

Anthropomorphic maps were common in Europe from at least the 1860s, but the genre was first exploited by the Japanese during their war with Russia, when they became popular tools for both internal propaganda and for communicating Japanese solidarity with European powers, specifically England.   In all, four such maps were issued to illustrate the Russo Japanese War at different points.

April 1904: Kisaburō Ohara, A Humorous Diplomatic Atlas of Europe and Asia


May 1904: Author not known, Humor Reproach Candition Map of Europe and Asia


June 1904: Kamijo Yomotaro, New Comical Atlas


January 1905: Author not known, Asia Europe Zanshin Kokkei Chizu

All except the first are rare, and indeed this Humor Reproach Candition Map is entirely unrecorded, at least in the West.

Not in OCLC or Persuasive Maps: The PJ Mode Collection.

Offered in partnership with Geographicus Antique Maps.


Folded in fourths at some point, with patch small loss at central intersection and minor wear along edges.