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1645 Blaeu Map of Northeast Asia: Siberia, Mongolia, Tartary, China, Central Asia

Tartaria sive Magni Chami Imperium. - Main View

1645 Blaeu Map of Northeast Asia: Siberia, Mongolia, Tartary, China, Central Asia


Speculative early map of Siberia based upon the journals of Marco Polo.


Tartaria sive Magni Chami Imperium.
  1645 (undated)     15.5 x 20 in (39.37 x 50.8 cm)     1 : 19232000


A fine c. 1645 map of northeast Asia (Siberia or Tartary) by J. Blaeu. The map covers from the Caspian Sea and the Volga River east as far as the China Sea and the city of Xanadu. It extends north to Nova Zembla and south to the Upper Ganges River. When Blaeu drew this map this part of the world was almost entirely unknown. Blaeu relied on the journals of Marco Polo to compile most of the map. Devils and dragons frolic in the Lop Nor and far to the north the summer seat of Kublai Khan's Yuan Empire Xanadu (Shangdu) is noted. The Great Wall of China appears prominently. Further west, the Geography becomes more stable with recognizable Silk Route centers such as Samarkand clearly identified. The title is set into a saddle blanket on the back of a dromedary. Mountains and forests are rendered pictorially. This map is distinguished from Jansson's very similar map by Blaeu's inclusion of degrees of longitude along the borders and meridians crossing the map. Issued in the 1645 German language edition of Blaeu's Atlas Major.


Joan (Johannes) Blaeu (September 23, 1596 - December 21, 1673) was a Dutch cartographer active in the 17th century. Joan was the son of Willem Janszoon Blaeu, founder of the Blaeu firm. Like his father Willem, Johannes was born in Alkmaar, North Holland. He studied Law, attaining a doctorate, before moving to Amsterdam to join the family mapmaking business. In 1633, Willem arranged for Johannes to take over Hessel Gerritsz's position as the official chartmaker of the Dutch East India Company, although little is known of his work for that organization, which was by contract and oath secretive. What is known is his work supplying the fabulously wealthy VOC with charts was exceedingly profitable. Where other cartographers often fell into financial ruin, the Blaeu firm thrived. It was most likely those profits that allowed the firm to publish the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, sive, Atlas Novus, their most significant and best-known publication. When Willem Blaeu died in 1638, Johannes, along with his brother Cornelius Blaeu (1616 - 1648) took over the management of the Blaeu firm. In 1662, Joan and Cornelius produced a vastly expanded and updated work, the Atlas Maior, whose handful of editions ranged from 9 to an astonishing 12 volumes. Under the brothers' capable management, the firm continued to prosper until the 1672 Great Amsterdam Fire destroyed their offices and most of their printing plates. Johannes Blaeu, witnessing the destruction of his life's work, died in despondence the following year. He is buried in the Dutch Reformist cemetery of Westerkerk. Johannes Blaeu was survived by his son, also Johannes but commonly called Joan II, who inherited the family's VOC contract, for whom he compiled maps until 1712. More by this mapmaker...


Blaeu, W., Atlas Major, (Amsterdam) Germany Edition, 1645.    


Very good. Back with fine japanese tissue. German text on verso. Minor discoloration upper left quadrant.


Koeman/V.d.Krogt, Atlantes Neerlandici, Vol.2, 112.2. OCLC: 224308027.