Catalog Archive
Auction 152, Lot 696

"Aethiopia Superior vel Interior; Vulgo Abissinorum sive Presbiteri Ioannis Imperium", Blaeu, Johannes

Subject: Central Africa

Period: 1640 (circa)

Publication: Theatre du Monde ou Nouvel Atlas

Color: Hand Color

19.7 x 15.2 inches
50 x 38.6 cm
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Decorative map of eastern and central Africa depicting the legendary Christian kingdom of Prester John. 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. The myth first located Prester John's kingdom in Asia, but it was later moved to Africa when explorers failed to find the kingdom in Asia.

Fabled rivers and numerous exotic animals, including ostrich, elephants and a monkey fill the otherwise empty spaces of the unexplored interior on this map. 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. Two large Ptolomaic lakes of Zaflan and Zaire located below the equator form the source of the Nile River, with the Mountains of the Moon located just south of them. There is much else of interest in this fine decorative map with a figurative title cartouche featuring natives with chubby infants fending off the sun with umbrellas and a scale of miles. French text on verso, published between 1643-1645.

References: Van der Krogt (Vol. II) #8720:2; Goss (Blaeu) pp. 152 -53, #65.

Condition: A+

A nearly flawless example with two tiny pinholes in the lower blank margin only visible when held to light.

Estimate: $600 - $750

Sold for: $400

Closed on 2/18/2015