Miao albums depict people and places in the Chinese southwestern borderland, but very few of them contain maps of the region. The painted maps in the Leiden University Libraries Miao albums may offer insight into the history of the region and its administration.
An exceptional two-volume Miao album, recently acquired by Leiden University Libraries, depicts non-Han ethnic groups living in Yunnan Province. The manner in which these groups are depicted tells us a lot about how officials viewed ethnic minorities in the Southwest of the Qing Empire.
The concept of time determines human life in the most crucial ways. It is beyond human control, but there has always been the desire to at least manage time by applying structure, measurement, and rules. One of the most decisive and varied means of structuring and measuring time is the calendar.
In the second half of the 19th century, when European colonial powers were still mapping Asian river valleys, explorers and missionaries accidentally discovered a kind of picture-writing still in use by tribes in southwest China. These tribes would be grouped under one official umbrella: Naxi.