Paris: Denys Thierry, 1683. unbound. Five miniature maps on one sheet. Copper plate engraving with hand coloring. Image measures 7 x 4.25". Sheet measures 8.25" x 5.5"
This sheet of five miniature maps describes the northern part of Asia in classical times, perhaps circa 150 AD. At the top, an overview map shows the main regions and territories, which are pictured in more detail below. From left to right, the four maps below depict Scythia east of the Imaus (Pamir) Mountains, Serica, Sychia west of the Pamir mountains, and Sarmatia, the last of which borders the Black Sea. What the map lacks in rigorous detail, it makes up for in design. The top map is presented as a trompe'l-oeil wall map, while the four below are banners tacked to the woven wall. Together, the maps creatively deconstruct and reconstruct a vision of Asia in the early years of the current era. Written above ithe image is the heading "De L'Asie. Figure III." The map appeared in the French edition of Manesson-Mallet's "Description de L'Univers." It is in good condition with minor crisp edges. French text on verso.
Allain Manesson-Mallet (1630-1706) advanced from his position of musket bearer under Louis XIV to eventually occupy the position of "maitre de mathematiques" to the French King. He was the author and engraver of "Description de L'Univers," a five-volume survey of the world that included maps of the ancient and modern world, star maps, illustrations of flora and fauna, and information on the customs, religion and government of the many nations included in the text. At the time, the text was the largest and most comprehensive work of its kind ever published. Intended to entertain its readers, Mallet's "Description" was a time capsule of the 17th-century world that captured and displayed it in all its splendor.