By: Girolamo Ruscelli
Date: 1574 (published) Venice
Dimensions: 7.6 x 10.25 inches (19.3 x 26.04 cm)
This important Ruscelli map of Brazil, from his work La Geografia di Claudio Tolomeo Alessandrino, is one of the earliest obtainable modern maps of the region. Despite the paucity of detail, this is a fascinating map.
Oriented west, the map reveals some interesting topographical misconceptions and/or lack of knowledge of the true topography of the region. A detail which immediately catches the eye is the direction in which the Amazon River flows, from south to north rather than west to east. Its origin is depicted as a lake at the foot of an active volcano, near to which is another lake, depicted as the source of the river La Plata.
Some mountainous regions are denoted, but the rain forest of the Amazon, its density, would seem to have not yet been realized as forested areas are remote from one another rather than contiguous. The mountains of Brazil are a bit exaggerated, but farther to the south suggest the northern end of the Andes. Place names dot the coastline, identifying cities, capes and estuaries of a number of rivers. Place names including capes and names of river systems are delineated.
An interesting note in Italian in the centre of the map states that ‘The Indians native to these countries eat human meat.’ There is descriptive text in Italian on the verso.
Girolamo Ruscelli (1500s-1566) was an Italian polymath, humanist, editor, and cartographer active in Venice during the early 16th century. Ruscelli is best known for his important revision of Ptolemy's Geographia, published posthumously in 1574.
Condition: This map is in B+ condition. Brazil itself is a strong impression, with some loss of clarity in portions of the border. Slight discoloration of the centerfold. Damp staining in areas of the margin.
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