The Catalan Atlas 19th C. Edition in 6 Maps
Map of Southeast Asia and China
Map of Southeast Asia and China
Abraham Cresques (d. 1387) (after)
Map of Southeast Asia and China
from The Catalan Atlas
Charles Simonneau, Paris: 1st Half 19th Century
Hand-colored engravings on paper, mounted on linen
Set of six enclosed in paperboard folder and slipcase, as issued
20.5 x x 26 inches each (65 x 51 cm)
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More Biblical figures appear on this map. The Queen of Sheba and The Adoration of Christ is depicted in the upper right grouping of figures.

The map of Southeast Asia and China includes all that was then known of Asia, including descriptions of customs and economic resources, notably from Marco Polo and Sir John de Mandeville's accounts of their travels. For the first time in medieval cartography this continent has a recognizable form and many Indian and Chinese cities, including Beijing, are present. In the interior, the main divisions of the Mongol Empire are drawn. The Bibliotheque Nationale's web site calls this "perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Catalan Atlas : to the east of the well-defined Mediterranean world lie immense regions whose economic importance is clearly understood, but which remain mysterious and unexplored." The mysteriousness no doubt gave rise to the fantastic stories illustrated alongside peoples include Pygmies battling storks in the mountains of Asia at the center of the map, a story refuted by Marco Polo. Another legend concerns dozens of islands drawn along the Chinese coastline which are described as being inhabited by naked savages who eat raw fish. In the Indian Ocean, the map reports the existence of an island tribe of giants, "who eat white men and strangers, if they can catch them" and mermaids are depicted in the waters. Over a century later, the Age of Exploration would begin with Christopher Columbus' attempt to reach these lands by sea.

Actual personages such as Kublai Khan are mixed in with some mythical peoples. In the upper left corner is a funeral procession for the cremation of an old man. To the procession's right is Alexander the Great, and to the right of that is a scene of the Adoration of Christ the King.

References:

"BN-OPALINE." 12 June 2005. Bibliothèque Nationale de France Cartes et Plans. (19 January 2006).

"Ciel & Terre: L'atlas Catalan." from "The Age of King Charles V." Bibliothèque Nationale de France. http://www.bnf.fr/enluminures/texte/atx2_07.htm (18 January 2006).

Davis, Henry. "Slide #235: The Catalan Atlas." Index of Cartographic Images

Grojean, Georges Ed. Mapamundi, the Catalan atlas of the year 1375. Abaris Books, 1978.

Illustrating Maps of the Late Medieval Period: 1300 - 1500 A.D. 18 February 1998. http://www.henry-davis.com/MAPS/LMwebpages/235mono.html (18 January 2006).