Catalog Archive
Auction 115, Lot 747

"Aethiopia Superior vel Interior vulgo Abissinorum sive Presbiteri Ioannis Imperium", Blaeu, Willem

Subject: Africa - Central

Period: 1627-1645


Color: Hand Color

19.5 x 15 inches
49.5 x 38.1 cm

Fine portrayal based on Ortelius' map of 1573. The map depicts the legendary Christian Kingdom of Prester John. Fabled rivers and numerous exotic animals fill the otherwise empty spaces of the unexplored interior. It shows a major section of central and eastern Africa including Mozambique and north to present-day Sudan. There is a fair amount of detail on the eastern coast, reflecting the Portuguese and Arab trading interests. Mogadishu, Mombassa, Quiloa [Kilwa] and Mozambique are shown as major towns. The west coast is shown from Benin to Angola with the major feature being the Zaire River. Below the equator two large lakes (the Ptolemaic lakes of Zaire and Zaflan) form the source of the Nile River. Much else of interest in this fine decorative map with a figurative title cartouche and scale of miles. Prester John was considered the good king who defeated the enemies of Christianity and was in part a response to Mongol and Islamic pressures on Christian Europe. A myth, Prester John was first placed in Asia, but later in East Africa. Latin text on verso.

References: Goss, Blaeu's, pp. 152 -53

Condition: B

Very dark, early impression with original coloring on hand laid paper with wide margins. Overall light age toned

Estimate: $600 - $800

Sold for: $450

Closed on 6/21/2006