Posted by on Feb 11, 2011 in Blog | 0 comments

Here’s my illustration for chapter three of The Years of Rice and Salt, in which the Chinese discover the New World. An expedition in the Christian 1620s to conquer a small Japanese port goes astray and is dragged by a current all the way across the Pacific. The survivors eventually dock in what we would call the San Francisco Bay. The relationship between Admiral Kheim and his crew, and Butterfly, a small Miwok girl they adopt to use as a translator, is in my opinion the most touching in the book. Oh, and though Kheim and the Chinese marvel at the unspoiled simplicity of the Miwok, suffice it to say a journey much further south convinces them that not all savages are noble.

Great quote for those of you who’ve read it (context-sensitive, spoiler alert):

Kheim said to [the emperor], “That far country is lost in time, its streets paved with gold, its palaces roofed with gold. You could conquer it in a month, and rule over all its immensity, and bring back all the treasure that it has, endless forest and furs, turquoise and gold, more gold than there is yet now in the world; and yet still the greatest treasure in that land is already lost.”