Abraham Ortelius; 1528-1598.
Ortelius name is often associated with Ptolemy and Mercator,
when evocating the founding fathers of cartography.
Abaham Ortel (Ortelius), born in Antwerp, trained in classics
and math. He became a book dealer and a map colorist.
Widely traveling to attend fairs, he befriended many literati,
in his homeland and abroad. Upon their encouragement, he engaged
in 1570 in the "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum" project, by collecting
maps, charts and plans among diverse cartographers, and having
Frans Hogenberg* re-engrave them in the same uniform size
and style, to form the first known modern Atlas (even though
this term was not used for another twenty years,. by his major
competitor: Gerard Mercator!).
The Theatrum knew an immediate and lasting success, being
re-issued many times over in different languages. It always
gave credit to the sources of information and other contributors
used to produce the maps (a practice few followed in those
Of note: the 42 editions of the "Theatrum" between 1570 and
1612, the 1577 "Spiegel der Werelt" (reduced version of the
Theatrum engraved by Philippe Galle, issued till 1585); and
the 1579 "Parergon Theatri" (historical atlas, reissued till
*Hogenberg associated with Georg Braun, was famous for their
1572 "Civitates orbis terrarum", a compilation of plans of
the most significant towns of the time, being recycled many
times till 1750 by Abraham Hogenberg, Frederick de Wit, Pieter
van der Aa, Covens & Mortier.
Tartariae sive magni chami regni typus.
This large map (18 11/16" X 13 ¾") was designed for the
1570 issue of the Theatrum.
The present item was printed for the 1584 edition of this
It shows the extent of the Tartar empire of the great Khan,
which seems to cover all of present day Siberia and most of
central Asia plus northern China.
Besides the interesting cartouches, and vignettes of tartar
encampments, sailing ships and monster fish; one must notice
the large amount of write ups. The related texts in latin
refer to obscure ancient history( ten Hebrew tribes, kingdom
of prester John,.), but also mention better known historic
facts (such as the failed Tartar invasion of Japan) and historic
figures such as Francis I of France, Carlos V of Spain and
Marco Polo (Paulo Veneto).
Notice that California is correctly depicted as a peninsula,
and also that the great wall of China is not shown, and that
the location of most Chinese provinces is quite fantasist.
Curiously, Taiwan (Isola Fermosa) is shown at the wrong latitude
of almost 30º instead of the correct 23º30', name confusion?
Latin text on verso.