6164. Ptolemaic map of Southeast Asia 1482
Engraved map from Francesco di Niccolò Berlinghieri's Geographia, with original handcolouring, c. 385 x 390 mm (including text). One vertical fold, loss and splitting along fold, lower sheet edge trimmed to, or just within the lower border scale, dampstaining in upper plate area, a few small areas of loss at sheet edges, several wormholes. Framed.
Löwendahl: China illustrata nova. Supplement, E1.
The map, modelled on the map of Southeast Asia and China in Ptolemy's Cosmographia, originally published with maps in 1477, shows a peninsula in the eastern Indian Ocean which is a rudimentary approximation of Malaya and Indochina. China is placed in easternmost Asia, "terminated on the north by the accessible parts of Sercia" (Suarez , pp. 82 and 86). The Chinese coast curves away to east and south so as to meet Terra Australis.
One of the most conspicuous errors in the Ptolemaic maps was the invention of a Terra Australis connecting China with the east coast of Africa and converting the Indian Ocean into a huge lake.
"Perhaps the most extra ordinary part of the story of Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus (fl. A.D. 127-48) is that his writings effectively lay dormant for over a thousand years, and then galloped into European consciousness as fresh and revolutionary in the fifteenth century as they had been in the second century A.D. In truth, although Ptolemy was unknown in Western Europe for the first one and a half millennia of Christendom, the Geographia was reviewed by Byzantine academics in the tenth or eleventh century, and it is possible that some of what we know as Ptolemy's work may in fact have originated with, or at least may have been emandated by, those scholars" (Suarez, Early mapping of Southeast Asia, Singapore 1999, p. 64).
The text in Francesco di Niccolò Berlinghieri's Geographia is not an edition of Ptolemy; it is rather a description of the world in Italian verse derived from classical and contemporary sources (Campbell, The earliest printed maps 1472-1500, London 1987, p. 124).
From the library of Swedish antiquarian bookdealer Björn Löwendahl (1941-2013).