Basel: Heinrich Petri, 1552.
Map. Uncolored woodcut. Sheet measures 12.5" x 16".
This 1552 map of central Asia by Sebastian Munster is also one of the most famous monster maps of the 16th century. Spans northward from India and the Ganges River. Cartographically based on Claudius Ptolemy's "Geographia", the map includes the Ganges, Schythia, the Anthropophagi region and China. The regions of Scythia Intra Imaum and Scythia Extra Imaun are identified. The region of Scythia, as it was known during the time of the Roman Empire covers the whole of Northern Asia, divided by Mount Imaum. The Himalayas appear across the lower half of the map with Mount Imaum extending northward.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of this map are the illustrations of mythological monsters surrounding the map proper. These include a one legged bird being hunted, and medieval creatures that are based upon reports and myths dating to the early age of European travel into the East, prior to Marco Polo's journey into Asia in the 13th century. The top right of the map features cannibals dismembering a corpse.
This map appeared in Muster's 1552 Latin edition of Ptolemy's 'Geographia'. Verso features an explanation in Latin with a decorative woodcut border, probably cut by the famous 16th century woodcutter Hans Holbein, Few, if any, of the borders are repeated and are mainly allegoric scenes, coats of arms or initials. The map is in good condition with minor wear and toning along the original centerfold. Minor foxing at places.
Professor Sebastian Munster (1488-1552) was a German cosmographer, humanist, theologian and scholar. His seminal work "Cosmographia" was published in numerous languages and is considered the most popular book of the 16th century. Furthermore, Munster is also credited with contributing to a revival of geography in Germany. This map is a fine example of his work.