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Friday, April 20, 2018

A Rare Look At The Ancient Far East

The above map sports just a tiny wedge of Japan—just above the box—which makes it eligible for this blog by my way of thinking... and man, is it a real beaut!

Despite the lack of respect shown to Japan, it predominantly shows of the eastern portion of China, India and Southeast Asia - complete with mountain ranges, rivers, lakes, towns, cities and kingdoms.

Created by Italian cartographer Giacomo Gastaldi, this four-sheet map was first created as a single map in 1559, with additional sections added in 1561, with additional sections of Indonesia and the islands of Java Minor added in 1565.

Within the map’s legend box on the right side, there are close to 100 place names that show the ancient and modern names of various places.

Apparently Gastaldi has relied upon information from the travels of Marco Polo, as well as other contemporary travelers to the Far East, including Marcus Fugger, whose family library owned one of the most important libraries compiled in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Some say the privately-owned Fugger library was better than the Vatican library.

This map, published in Rome, Italy in 1580 measures 30 x 30 inches (76.2 cm x 76.2), and is being offered for sale for US $128,000.

By the way… the sea, as named on the map, to the left of Japan is named “Mare de Mangi”… which, if translated word-by-word from its Italian into English reads “Sea of Eat”

Now… not the Sea of East… the Sea of Eat.

Also, note the spelling of Japan… Giapan… interesting…

Anyhow, should you have some spare money under your kotatsu, take a look at THIS website ( for this and other awesome (and other more affordable [not for me]) maps.

If you click on the linked word "THIS", in the sentence above, you can see images of this and other maps. By clicking on the image, a larger version will show up... and even then there's a button which will allow the image to fill the entire screen of your digital device, at which point you can easily read everything on the map provided you can translate 500-year-old Italian... I assume there's been come changes to the language since the map was published.

Andrew Joseph

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