Item #308674 Map of the Kingdom of Prester John, also known as the Abyssinian Empire; Presbiteri Iohannis, Sive, Abissinorum Imperii Descriptio. Abraham ORTELIUS.

Map of the Kingdom of Prester John, also known as the Abyssinian Empire; Presbiteri Iohannis, Sive, Abissinorum Imperii Descriptio

Antwerp: Abraham Ortelius, 1573.

Map. Engraving with hand color. Image measures 16 5/8" x 21 1/2". Antwerp: 1573.

In this stunning map of Africa, Ortelius depicts a speculative kingdom of Prester John, covering eastern and central Africa in beautiful detail. Prester John was believed to be a Christian patriarch and king who ruled over a Christian people lost among pagans and Muslims. The legend of Prester John appeared in stories from the early 12th century, and he was originally believed to preside over a region in Central Asia or India. When these claims were determined to be unfounded, the mythical empire was "relocated" to Abyssinia, where a powerful Christian kingdom was already known to exist.

On this map, the Nile River flows along the center, from its delta in the Mediterranean to various lakes in central Africa. The continent is divided into three sections: the kingdom of Prester John, the kingdom of Nubia, the region west of the Niger River. The map extends to Mozambique, and includes the Arabian Peninsula. Extensive notations describe the region in great detail, noting cities, topography, mineral resources, and 'historical' events. Topographical and geographical features such as mountains, forests and cities are beautifully rendered in profile. Illustrations of sea monsters are included in the Indian Ocean, and a ship is drawn in the Atlantic. Elephants are depicted in Nubia and West Africa. Ortelius based this map on the 1564 Africa map by Gastaldi and maps from Livio Sanuto's Africa atlas. A beautifully engraved title cartouche adorns the lower right of the map, and in the upper left is a dedication to John Prester featuring his coat of arms and a description of his Davidic lineage and the region he reigns over.

This map was published in Ortelius's famous "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum," which is historically considered the first modern atlas. Based on the Latin text on verso, only 500 copies of this particular atlas were ever printed (van der Broecke 177). This map is in very good condition, and has been professionally restored with archival Japanese tissue repair to centerfold. Some offsetting and minor stains. Latin text on verso.

Abraham Ortelius (1527--1598), a Flemish cartographer and geographer, is widely regarded as one of the important and influential cartographers in history. He is known for his "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum," which was the first modern atlas. Marcel van den Broecke; Ort. 175.

Binding: Unbound
Language: Latin

Price: $1,600.00

Item #308674

See all items by