Date: 1610 (circa) Amsterdam
Dimensions: 13.4 x 19.25 inches (34 x 48.9 cm)
A map depicting the realm of the legendary Christian emperor Prester John, in Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia).
The Prester John myth spread throughout Europe during the 12th century Crusades to the Holy Land, concerning parts of the world which had yet to be explored and thus seemed exotic to Europeans. The subject of the legend, Prester John, may have a real person who became the an object of speculation at the time. The myth is portrayed in this map by Gerard Mercator and later published by Jodocus Hondius, which abounds in the fantasies of the time which were still circulating throughout Europe.
In addition to Prester John’s empire, the map shows great territories in its southern regions which were under the rule of the Amazons, along with a nearby lake named Zaire inhabited by Tritons and Sirens. Antropophagi (cannibals) are depicted as threatening the Christianized kingdom of the Congo on the west coast of the continent. The Atlantic Ocean is named Oceanus Aethiopicus (Ethiopian Ocean) and the coast is shown in some detail in the inset of the upper right quadrant, which is thought to have been derived from the reports of early Portuguese exploration.
The inset bears a title cartouche reading ‘Congi Regni in Africa Christiani Nova description’. Also depicted are parts of Arabia as far as Gidda (Jeddah) on the Red Sea, and Mecha (Mecca) a bit north of its actual location, and Gulf of Aden is called Sinus Arabicus. Many details are speculative such as myriad rivers which don’t exist, and Lakes Tanganyika and Victoria are depicted as considerably than they are in reality.
The map has distance scales in German and Spanish. French text on the verso describes the Kingdoms of the Congo and Abyssinia.
Condition: This hand colored map is in B+ condition with a bright image on lightly soiled paper. A few minor separations are confined within wide margins on all sides and have been reinforced on the verso. A small area of damp staining at the bottom of the page is approximately 2.5 inches from the image.
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