"Tab. XII. Asiae, Taprobanam Repraesentans...", Ptolemy/Mercator
Subject: Sri Lanka
Period: 1730 (circa)
Publication: Claudii Ptolemaei's Atlas Tabulae Geographicae Orbis Terrarum
Color: Hand Color
13.6 x 13.1 inches
34.5 x 33.3 cm
Claudius Ptolemy was a mathematician, astronomer and geographer who worked in Alexandria, then a part of the Roman Empire, in the 2nd century AD. One of the most learned and influential men of his time, his theories dominated both astronomy and geography for nearly 1500 years. His writings were kept alive by Arabic scholars during the Middle Ages and reemerged in Europe during the Renaissance. The birth of printing led to wide dissemination of his great works on astronomy and geography. There were a number of editions of his Geographia beginning in 1477. These early editions contained maps based on his original writings, known as Ptolemaic maps. As geographic knowledge increased with the explorations of Columbus, Magellan, Cabot and others, maps of the New World were added, and maps of the Old World were revised. Ptolemy's Geographia continued to be revised and published by some of the most important cartographers including Martin Waldseemuller, Sebastian Munster, Giacomo Gastaldi, Jodocus Hondius, and Gerard Mercator (whose last edition was published in 1730).
This is a superb example of this Ptolemaic map of Sri Lanka. Ptolemy drew on the accounts of travelers and sailors and though the information was secondhand and often inaccurate it represented the most advanced account of the world's geography at that time. This map depicts the island with the typical misconceptions of Ptolemy with the island straddling the Equator and nearly divided by a ridge of mountains. A small part of India is incorrectly shown in the northeast corner of the map. The stipple engraved sea is filled with an oriental ship and two great sea monsters. The handsome map is further embellished with a strapwork title cartouche.
References: Mickwitz & Miekkavaara #235-18; Van der Krogt (Vol. I) #0932:1.3.
Nice impression and color on watermarked paper with minor printer's ink residue at top. What appears in the image to be centerfold toning is simply show-through of the backstrap.