Tabula orientalis regionis, Asiae scilicet extremas complectens terras et regna.
1550 (undated) 11.25 x 14 in (28.575 x 35.56 cm)
1 : 40000000
This is a c. 1550 Sebastian Munster map of Asia, the first specific printed map of Asia and the earliest obtainable map of the continent. The map depicts the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf to the Pacific Ocean and from the Arctic Ocean to the Indian Ocean. Though based heavily on Ptolemy's work, Munster also blends in information gleaned from recent discoveries made by Portuguese traders and adventurers, including Vasco da Gama. Both the Portuguese outposts of Goa and Calicut, on the Indian subcontinent, are labeled, and the depiction of India is improved, moving closer to a truly accurate depiction, although it is still undersized. The inclusion of Sri Lanka (Zaylon) as an island is also an improvement, though Munster misattributes the historical name for Sri Lanka, 'Taprobana' to Sumatra, which is also placed to the west of the Malay peninsula.
The Portuguese trading post of Malaqua in Southeast Asia is also present. Munster's depiction of Southeast Asia is recognizable, with a few missteps. Java is split in two, illustrated here as Java Major and Java Minor, and Munster keeps Marco Polo's assertion of a vast archipelago in the Pacific made up of 7,448 islands. Munster's depiction of China (Cathay) is also consistent with Marco Polo's writings. Another curious aspect of Munster's map is the continuation of the continent off the page, which is perhaps his way of not committing to whether or not Asia was connected to North America, even though his own map of North America illustrates it as a separate continent.
This map was created and published by Sebastian Munster c. 1550.
Sebastian Münster (January 20, 1488 - May 26 1552), was a German cartographer, cosmographer, and a Hebrew scholar. Münster was born at Ingelheim near Mainz, the son of Andreas Munster. He completed his studies at the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen in 1518, after which he was appointed to the University of Basel in 1527. As Professor of Hebrew, he edited the Hebrew Bible, accompanied by a Latin translation. His principal work, the Cosmographia, first issued in 1544, was the earliest German description of the world. The book proved popular and was reissued in numerous editions and languages including Latin, French, Italian, English, and Czech. The last German edition was published in 1628, long after his death. The Cosmographia was one of the most successful and popular books of the 16th century. It passed through 24 editions in 100 years. This success was due to the fascinating woodcuts (some by Hans Holbein the Younger, Urs Graf, Hans Rudolph Manuel Deutsch, and David Kandel). Munster's work was highly influential in reviving classical geography in 16th century Europe. In 1540 he published a Latin edition of Ptolemy's Geographia, also with illustrations. The 1550 edition contains cities, portraits, and costumes. These editions, printed in Germany, are the most valued of the Cosmographia. Münster also wrote the Dictionarium trilingue in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew and composed a large format map of Europe in 1536. In 1537 he published a Hebrew Gospel of Matthew which he had obtained from Spanish Jews he had converted. Most of Munster's work was published by his son-in-Law, Heinrich Petri (Henricus Petrus), and his son Sebastian Henric Petri. He died at Basel of the plague in 1552.
Munster, S., Cosmographica, (Petri, Basel) 1550.
Very good. Even overall toning. Latin text on verso.