By: Petrus Plancius
Date: 1594 (dated) Amsterdam
Dimensions: 16 x 22.75 inches (40.7 cm x 57.8 cm)
This is an authentic, antique map of map of the world by Petrus Plancius. This map was published out of Amsterdam and is dated 1594
The Plancius world map of 1594 is best known for being the first map to employ a decorative border filled with allegorical female figures and vignettes of flora and fauna believed to be indigenous to their representative continent. It is a style that would be emulated for well over 100 years, during the renaissance of cartography.
From top left going clockwise, the illustrated panels depict the following:
Europa: A queen holding a cornucopia and scepter sitting above various items symbolizing health, education, discovery, navigation, and military. In the background a battle rages on land and at sea, flanked by two aristocrats in conversation and a farmer playing music for his heard of sheep.
Asia: Another woman of royal stature sits atop a rhinoceros holding a spice branch in one hand and waving an incense burner in the other. The background is shared by another raging battle and group of animals that include elephants, camels, a giraffe, and a unicorn.
Africa: An allegorical female figure sits atop a crocodile holding a parasol, spear, and bow. The background shows pyramids and what appears to be a figure being prepared for mummification outside a tomb. Animals include elephants, lions, an ostrich, snake, and lizard.
Magallanica: The massive assumed continent dominating the southern hemisphere is represented with an allegorical figure sitting atop an elephant holding native flora under a parrot. The background shows a bird of paradise soaring over an army of men riding elephants.
Peruana: This continent (South America) was consistently depicted as the land of the cannibals. In this panel, a figure sits atop a leopard, holding a battle axe, surrounded by parrots, monkeys, goats, a dog and a snake. The background presents a scene of natives preparing a feast of human flesh under erupting volcanoes, with voyaging European ships in the distance.
Mexicana: This continent (North America) is represented by a figure holding a bow and arrow while sitting atop a giant armadillo. Underneath, a box of eggs includes the engravers name Joannes Van Doetecum. The background shows another native feast being prepared, this time mostly consisting of indigenous animals, though a single severed leg can be spotted suggesting the possibility of more cannibals. In the distance, native warriors are being rallied into formation.
Aside from the decorative aspects of this map, several geographical details deserve attention as well. The North Pole is displayed with what was then a popular belief of four land masses separated by streams of flowing ocean water that surround a single island at the very top of the world. A glorious presentation of a northwest passage seems almost too easy to navigate. The fictitious island of Frisland appears in the north Atlantic. A northeast passage shows another navigable route to the Pacific. Korea is shown as a peninsula for the first time and an improved Japan is depicted based on the drawings of the Portuguese cartographer Luiz Teixeira. New Guinea, which had appeared as an island in earlier maps is joined to the massive assumed southern continent of Magallanica. Terra del Fuego is also included within this landmass.
The oceans are labeled with an elaborate calligraphy style and adorned by two sailing ships and a glorious sea monster in the south Pacific. Two celestial star charts appear above and below the map along with an armillary spherical diagram and a compass rose.
Condition: This map is in B condition with some minor separations along the top centerfold and some creasing, which is most notable in the upper celestial star chart. Margins are narrow, which is common among these maps and there are no signs of trimming or loss of the image. An attractive example in completely original condition.
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