Indiarum Orientalium Occidentaliumque Descriptio…

Cartographer(s): Giovanni Maffei
Date: 1589
Place: Colonge
Dimensions: 48.8 x 25.9 cm (19.2 x 10.2 in)
Condition Rating: VG

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SKU: NL-00151 Category:

This rare Italian world map is based on Ortelius’s 1570 Typus Orbis Terrarum


This rare Italian world map is based on Ortelius’s 1570 Typus Orbis Terrarum. As such, the map gives us a window into the workings of the late 16th century European map publishing industry.

The strapwork title cartouche has been shifted down into the map image, obscuring the northern regions and making the huge southern continent appear even more exaggerated. Far larger than today’s Antartica, this iteration of the Terra Australis was based on the ideas found in the writings of ancient Greek authors, who stressed balance in the forces and shape of the world. Several place names are identified here, including Terra del Fuego, Psitacorum Regio, Lucach and Beach.

The bulge in the western coast of South America is retained (Ortelius corrected this error for his second world map of 1585), and North America is filled with spurious rivers and mountain ranges, including a prominent Northwest Passage, with no trace of the Great Lakes. The legendary cities of Quivira and Cevola are identified. The Solomon Islands, which were discovered in 1568 by Alvaro de Mendaña, but not added by Ortelius until his third plate, are absent.

In Asia, the Black Sea is drawn on an east-west axis, common for the period. Japan is represented without a distinct shape, and there is no indication of Korea.

The map is embellished with strapwork designs in the corners, with a ship and sea monsters in the oceans. Maffei’s account of the Portuguese accomplishments throughout India and the Far East was first published in 1588. There were several later editions, but only those published in Cologne in 1589 and 1593 contain this world map.

Published in Historiarum Indicarum…


Condition Description

A superb impression issued folding, now pressed, on watermarked paper. A couple of minor fold separations confined to the blank margins have been professionally repaired.


Shirley, Rodney W. The Mapping of the World: Early Printed World Maps, 1472-1700. London: Holland Press, 1983, #166.