Mid-16th century German map of the Indian Ocean and Asia by Sebastian Münster. This map was published in the 1550 German edition of Münster’s monumental work Cosmographia. Sumatra is designated as Taprobana, Java Major is shown below an island called Java Minor. The Pacific Ocean shows an archipelago of 7448 islands, a forerunner to the better understanding of Southeast Asia. Although largely based on Ptolemy’s work, the map incorporates some of the more recent Portuguese discoveries. The outlines of the Indian subcontinent, between the Indus and the Ganges rivers are in a recognizable form, with “Zaylon” (Ceylon/Sri Lanka) correctly shown as an island. The treatment of “Cathay” (China) is consistent with the writings of Marco Polo and other Venetian travellers.
Size image: 39 cm x 27 cm
Decorative map of the modern world, originaly published in Munster’s 1550 edition of Cosmographia. This is the first map to name the Pacific Ocean (Mare Pacificum). Munster is non-committal about the continuity of the only recently discovered North and South America, an unbroken Central America being implied but not clearly shown. All of North America is called Terra Florida and the west coast of America appears on the right side of the map. Though unnamed, Terra Australis is present but small. Munster adds further to the confusion over Taprobana (Ceylon or Sumatra), depicting a Sumatra-shaped Taprobana on the west side of the Indian sub-continent, and Java in position of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) off the southeast coast of India. In Africa, the legendary mountains of the moon are shown as the origin of the Nile.
Size image: 39 cm x 27 cm
Taprobana as shown by the German geographer, cartographer and theologian Sebastian Munster. On some maps of the period Taprobana is depicted as Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and on others as the much larger island of Sumatra. In this particular instance Taprobana has the equator running through the southern part of the island and therefore cannot represent Ceylon which lies north of the equator. The position of the equator and the location to the south-west of ‘Pars Indiae’ suggests Sumatra Island. The name, shape and position of the island in the Indian ocean is derived from an earlier world map of Ptolemy contained in a 15th century (pre-1470) manuscript and represents a vestige of the mythical islands of Ptolemy’s land-locked Indian Ocean (Mare Indicum). The cartouche contains an old Gothic text referring to Taprobana and Sumatra and the commodities available on the island including pepper, one of the major spices produced in Sumatra. The map was probably published in Münster’s Geographia Universalis in 1540.
Size image: 34 cm x 25 cm