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1570 Ortelius Map of Asia (first edition)

Asiae Nova Descriptio - Main View

1570 Ortelius Map of Asia (first edition)




Asiae Nova Descriptio
  1572 (undated)     15 x 20 in (38.1 x 50.8 cm)


A scarce and stunning first edition example of Abraham Ortelius' important 1572 map of Asia. Covers from Europe and Africa eastward to include all of Asia, the East Indies, Japan, and parts of New Guinea and Australia. From west to east, this map offers numerous elements worthy of further study. The Caspian Sea, according to the convention of the time, is presented on an east-west rather than north-south axis. Arabia is projected in a distended form. Further east in western China, Cayamay lacus is depicted. This mythical body of water was postulated by Ortelius to be the source great rivers of Southeast Asia. Indeed, Ortelius crisscrosses East Asia with a vast network of waterways advocating his belief that a water route existed through China to the North Sea and hence, via the Northeast Passage, to Europe. Still further east Japan appears in a distorted top heavy projection that resembles a tadpole. To the south Luzon is absent from the Philippine Islands. In the extreme southeast portion of the map Australia appears as 'Terrae Incognitae Australis.' East of China, two sailing ships ply the waters of the Pacific. A large decorative title cartouche adorns the lower left hand quadrant.

Ortelius based this map on his own wall map of 1567. This map was issued as page 3 in the 1872-73 German language edition of Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum and corresponds to Van den Broecke's Ort 6 classification, predating the more common Ort 7 map of Asia that appeared in 1574. Ortelius printed only 1675 copies of this edition of Asiae Nova Descriptio (Ort 6) as opposed to nearly 7000 of the 1574 (Ort 7) edition


Abraham Ortelius (1527 - 1598) was one of the most important figures in the history of cartography and is most famously credited with the compilation of the seminal 1570 atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, generally considered to be the world's first modern atlas. Ortelius was born in Antwerp and began his cartographic career in 1547 as a typesetter for the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke. In this role Ortelius traveled extensively through Europe where he came into contact with Mercator, under whose influence, he marketed himself as a "scientific geographer". In this course of his long career he published numerous important maps as well as issued several updated editions of his cardinal work, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Late in his career Ortelius was appointed Royal Cartographer to King Phillip II of Spain. On his death in July fourth, 1598, Ortelius' body was buried in St Michael's Præmonstratensian Abbey , Antwerp, where his tombstone reads, Quietis cultor sine lite, uxore, prole. Learn More...


Ortelius, A., Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, (1572 German language edition)    


Very good condition. Light overall toning. Minor discoloraiton on original centerfold. Minor centerfold reinforcement on verso - bottom center, extening about 2 inches into the map.


Phillips (Atlases) 374. Library of Congress, Map Division, G1006 .T5 1570b. Van den Broecke, M., Ortelius Atlsa Maps: An Illustrated Guide, Ort 6, 1572/1573G3 (see also the very similar but more common Ort 7). Koeman, C., Atlantes Neerlandici…, 3. Tibbets G. R., Arabia in Early Maps, map 34, p. 48. Schilder,G. The Wall Maps by Abraham Ortelius p. 93-124. Heintz. M. & Reiter, C. Asiæ Descriptio and the Judgment Day Painting, p. 125-132. Suarez, T., Early Mapping of South-East Asia, p. 164-170. Lutz, W., Japan: A Cartographic Vision: European Printed Maps from teh early 16th to the19th Century, 11C. Quirino, C., Philippine Cartography,1320-1899, p. 76. Clancy, R., The Mapping of Terra Australis, 1.12. Yeo, J., Mapping the Continent of Asia, #5. Van Der Krogt, Peter C. J., Koeman's Atlantes Neerlandici, AN: 8000:31A. Cortazzi, H., Isles of Gold: Antique Maps of Japan, pl. 19.