‘Coloured Maps’ (2018-2021) is a joint research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and pursued by the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC) and the Mineralogical Museum/Center of Natural History (CeNak) as part of Universität Hamburg, the Hanseatic Business Foundation Archive with the Library of Commerce, and the Museum am Rothenbaum, Kulturen und Künste der Welt (MARKK). The project examines maps of East Asian and European origin drawn, dyed, and coloured by hand between the 15th and 20th century with a particular focus on the colours and colourants used for their production. In doing so, the project pursues a multidisciplinary approach to provide novel insights into research areas that have been neglected thus far. These range from the origin, composition, and processing of colour pigments to their function, use, and associated meaning in order to re-trace historical trade routes and to illuminate questions pertaining to regionally specific print traditions, processes, and innovations.
Particularly the material analysis of the colours and dyes breaks new ground for the study of coloured maps and prints. This research is carried out through predominantly non-invasive methods, including but not limited to microscopy, chemical analysis, and multispectral imaging.
By bringing together researchers from the natural sciences and the humanities, ‘Coloured Maps’ provides a novel comprehensive historical and analytical account of coloured maps, their production, and their significance. The project will also result in ten virtual lectures, given between October 2020 and January 2021, a workshop to be held in November 2020, and an exhibit scheduled for August 2021.