This page was created by Michitake Aso. The last update was by Kate McDonald.
Hanoi and Thai Nguyen
The following two maps are from the Đồng Khánh địa dư chí, or the Dong Khanh Geography, a set of maps of Vietnam started during the reign of Đồng Khánh (1886-1888) and meant for imperial consumption.
The first map is of Hanoi (Hà Nội) (previously names included Thăng Long), which has played a central role in the life of the delta. As Lê notes, “the geographical space of the Red River delta is not therefore simply a natural geographic region. The very presence of Thăng Long Hanoi with its prevailing zone of influence … [has] brought about the unity of the Red River delta throughout history” (Lê 1997, 325).
Notice the watery nature of Hanoi. The name “Hà Nội” (河內) means roughly “inside the river” and you can see the several lakes, including West Lake (西湖, Tây Hồ), Lake of the Restored Sword (湖劍還, Hồ Kiếm Hoàn) and the Seven Mau (little less than half a hectare) Lake (七畝湖, Bảy Mẫu Hồ). Spellings on the map noted here reflect Nguyen dynasty conventions. As Li Tana notes, West Lake is an oxbow lake formed when the Red River changed course. Moreover, the entrances to Hanoi are near rivers, allowing those from the countryside to bring their products by boat, and thus served as market places (Li 2016). Note also the mandarin road heading south and the mountains along the borders of the map.
The following is a map of Thái Nguyên (太原, meaning large plain or field) province with its provincial city of the same name.
Note that the orientation of these maps follows their reproduction rather than the orientation of the Chinese characters on the map.
Finally, here is a recent bird's eye view of greater metropolitan Hanoi and its surroundings from Google maps.