1588 Ruscelli and Ptolemy Map of Northern India
Description: This is an uncommon 1588 Ptolemaic map of India issued for Girolamo Ruscelli's Italian edition of the Geografia di Tolomeo. Cartographically Ruscelli based this map on interpretations of Claudius Ptolemy's Geographica by Bernard Sylvanus and Sebastian Munster. The map covers the regions between the Indus River valley and the Ganges and from the Himalayas.
Though somewhat difficult to understand at first glance, this map corresponds to many actual locations and is upon close examination yields some of its secrets. The Indus Valley is readily identifiable in the west as is the Ganges River Valley bounding the east. The Himalayas crown the northern parts of the map and, at the southern extension, we can identify the Indian Ocean (Mare Indicum) and the island city of Talacori - an ancient Ptolemaic reference to the northern tip Ceylon. The subcontinent itself is barely discernible. The island between Talacori (Ceylon) labeled Cory and the strange peninsula between the Sinus Colcicus and Sinus Agaricus that separates the important ancient world maritime trading cities of Colchi and Aruarni can only be a primitive mapping of Rama's Bridge (Adam's Bridge), the limestone ridge separating India from Ceylon. Further east, in the Sinus Gangeticus or Bay of Bengal, the greatest city is Sipara, an early name for modern day Narsapur. The interior is unbelievably confusing. At center some of associated the city of Adisathra with the modern day city of Chattisgarh. The Orudij Montes, also known as the Oroudian Mountains, are possibly the Western Ghats. However, this is uncertain and though volumes have been written on the subject Ptolemaic India, especially in the 19th century, no clear consensus has been formed.
A fine, collectable, and early piece essential for any serious collection focused on the cartographic emergence of India in european maps. Published in Girolamo Ruscelli's Italian edition of the Geografia di Tolomeo.
Date: 1588 (undated)
Source: Ruscelli, G., Geografia di Tolomeo, (Venice) 1588.
References: Nordenskiold, A. E., Facsimile-Atlas to the Early History of Cartography with Reproductions of the Most Important Maps Printed in the XV and XVI Centuries, 227. Shirley R., Maps in the Atlases of the British Library, T.Ptol-10f.
Cartographer: Claudius Ptolemy (83 - 161 AD) is considered to be the father of cartography. A native of Alexandria living at the height of the Roman Empire, Ptolemy was renowned as a student of Astronomy and Geography. His work as an astronomer, as published in his Almagest, held considerable influence over western thought until Isaac Newton. His cartographic influence remains to this day. Ptolemy was the first to introduce projection techniques and to publish an atlas, the Geographiae. Ptolemy based his atlas on the "Geographiae" of Strabo, the cartographic materials assembled by Marinus of Tyre, and contemporary accounts provided by the many traders and navigators passing through Alexandria. Ptolemy's Geographiae was a ground breaking achievement far in advance of any known pre-existent cartography, however, it was not without flaws. In a masterstroke of ego that would last over 1,500 years, Ptolemy filled the many unknown and unexplored lands with mountains, lakes, and rivers that he merely assumed must exist. His other great error involved his use of the Cape Verde Islands as a Prime Meridian, thus wildly over estimating distances east of this point, and conversely underestimating the distances west. The ultimate result of this error was Columbus's fateful expedition to India in 1492. In any case, though the text of Ptolemy's Geographiae did survive, the maps that supposedly accompanied it did not. The earliest known Ptolemaic maps are in manuscript format and date to approximately 1300. Most of Ptolemaic maps that have come down to us today are based upon the 1477 Bologna edition of Ptolemy's Geographiae. Click here for a list of rare maps from Claudius Ptolemy.
Cartographer: Girolamo Ruscelli (1500 - 1566) was an Italian polymath, humanist, editor, and cartographer active in Venice during the early 16th century. Born in Viterbo, Ruscelli lived in Aquileia, Padua, Rome and Naples before relocating to Vencie, where he spent much of his life. Cartographically, Ruscelli is best known for his important revision of Ptolemy's Geographia, which was published posthumously in 1574. Ruscelli, basing his work on Gastaldi's 1548 expansion of Ptolemy, added some 37 new "Ptolemaic" maps to his Italian translation of the Geographia. Ruscelli is also listed as the editor to such important works as Boccaccio's Decameron, Petrarch's verse, Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, and various other works. In addition to his well-known cartographic work many scholars associate Ruscelli with Alexius Pedemontanus, author of the popular De' Secreti del R. D. Alessio Piemontese. This well-known work, or "Book of Secrets" was a compilation of scientific and quasi-scientific medical recipes, household advice, and technical commentary on a range of topics that included metallurgy, alchemy, dyeing, perfume making. Ruscelli, as Alexius, founded a "Academy of Secrets," a group of noblemen and humanists dedicated to unearthing "forbidden" scientific knowledge. This was the first known experimental scientific society and was later imitated by a number of other groups throughout Europe, including the Accademia dei Secreti of Naples. Click here for a list of rare maps by Girolamo Ruscelli.
Size: Printed area measures 8.5 in height x 10.5 inches in width (21.59 x 26.67 centimeters)
Condition: Very good. Text on verso. Some repairs wormholes in upper margins. Original centerfold. Original platemark visible. Overall a very nice crisp example.
Code: TabulaAsiaeX-ruscelli-1588 (to order by phone call: 646-483-0487)
© Geographicus Rare Antique Maps, Kevin Brown, 22/7/2014