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Sumatra, Taprobana, S.Munster c.1540

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Sumatra, Taprobana, S.Munster c.1540

Sumatra ein grosse Insel fo von den alten Geographen Taprobana ift genent worden.

A very rare mid-16th century coloured print of the Island of Sumatra, referred to in the title but named Taprobana on the map, a name often given to the island of Ceylon, modern-day Sri Lanka and fequently confused with the Island of Sumatra in 16th and 17th century cartography. The map, which is a wood cut, was published by the German geographer, cartographer and theologian Sebastian Munster (1485-1552) in his first edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia (Geographia universalis, vetus et nova, compectens Clavdii Ptolemaei Alexandrini enarrationis libros VIII…) in 1540. The work contains 27 maps of the old Ptolemaic canon and are supplemented by 21 new maps drawn by Munster, including the map of Sumatra/Taprobane, supposedly reflecting new geographical knowledge. The name, shape and position of the island in the Indian Ocean is in fact derived from an earlier world map derived from Claudius Ptolemy contained in a 15th century (pre-1470) manuscript volume (Codex La. V F.32 in the National Library Naples). The island is much larger than either Sumatra or Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and is centred in the Indian Ocean to the south of the Indus delta, to the southwest of nascent triangle of the Indian sub-continent and the Ganges delta in the east and represents a vestiage of the mythical islands of Ptolemy’s land locked Indian Ocean (Mare Indicum). This beautful print shows the Island bisceting the equator with some mountains, rivers and towns named located to the southwest of PARS India. The western third of the print shows an Asian elephant and part of tree with a cartouche below containing old Gothic text referring to Taprobana as Sumatra. Munster corrected the geography of the Far East four years later in 1544 in his monumental work Cosmographia where a recongnizable Island of Sumatra is located to the southwest of peninusula Malays.

Wood cut, modern colour, very good condition, measures 250 x 339 mm.

Purchase code: Mc037

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