Nova et accurata poli Arctici

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This is a map by Jan Jansson entitled “Nova et Accurata Poli Arctici.” It is a map of the top of the world. As we have already seen in map IV-30, the de L’Isle map of the northern hemisphere, there have been lots of different understandings of what the top half of the Earth looks like. This one, having been done in 1642, is considerably less finished – less full of understanding – than those that followed. One can see lots of wonderfully intersecting rhumb lines.[1] Now, however, because we are at the top of the Earth and all of the rhumb lines have to meet at the North Pole, there is a marvelous concatenation of lines gathering as one gets closer and closer to the center, uh, the North Pole.

Again, we see, both the top of North America, the top of Europe, and the top of Asia, as it was then, as they each were then understood, all quite uncertain. Of the cartouches[2], and there are, there’s one in the upper-portion and one in the lower-right are, uh, wonderfully imaginative. Winds are blowing from various faces. And in the lower-right we have a marvelous combination of two explorers, a polar bear, and what look like two, uh, a fox perhaps, uh, a fox and a deer, or maybe two foxes – some of the wildlife that, um, might have been discovered or seen up in that northern reach.

When compared with still earlier versions of the North Pole, others of which are in the Villanova collection, we get a wonderful series of views as man’s understanding of the northern parts of the world became better and better. It might be said, however, that as our accuracy improved, the colorfulness of the various depictions declined. And I still have a great fondness for these maps in the 1600s and the 1500s which tell their own wonderful story however mythological they might be.

[1] “In navigation, a rhumb line […] is an arc crossing all meridians of longitude at the same angle, that is, a path with constant bearing as measured relative to true or magnetic north.” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhumb_line
[2] “Cartouche, in architecture, ornamentation in scroll form, applied especially to elaborate frames around tablets or coats of arms. By extension, the word is applied to any oval shape or even to a decorative shield, whether scroll-like in appearance or not.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/art/cartouche

 

 

For more details, view the catalog record: https://library.villanova.edu/Find/Record/1935660

China veteribus Sinarum Regio nunc incolis Tame dicta

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This is a map of Southeast Asia, including China, including, uh, the Korean Peninsula, and including, uh, Japan with a little bit of the Philippines down below for good measure. This map was done actually by both, uh, the mapmaker Willem Blaeu and also the mapmaker Jan Jansson, and, uh, was prepared by both of them in the 1630s. They were great rivals.

This particular map was a great advancement at the time. Before it was done, a mapmaker by the name of Abraham Ortelius had tried to depict East Asia, uh and it was very, very rough-hewn indeed. One might say the same of this map, but it has to be noted that it is, and was, a significant, significant improvement.

Several features might be pointed out. There is, uh, an island called “Pakan al I. Formosa,” which is modern-day Taiwan. Off to the west, there is a completely mythical lake, “Lake Chiamay,” in the, uh, western-extreme portion of the map, that happens to be where Assam, India now lies. So, you can see that, as with so many maps of this period, there was a lot of guesswork being engaged in by the mapmaker and not all of it was right. Happily, this map has survived in very good condition and, uh, is marked by beautiful delineation of the best knowledge that the mapmakers had, um, at that time.

 

 

For more details, view the catalog record: https://library.villanova.edu/Find/Record/1935547

Insulae Americanae in Oceano Septentrionali, cum Terris adiacentibus

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This is a map by a mapmaker by the name of Jan – j-a-n – Jansson – j-a-n-s-s-o-n – who lived from 1588 to 1664. This was one of the prize maps in my collection, and I’m so glad that it is now in Villanova University’s Special Collections. It is a depiction of the lower portion of the then-known portions of North America, plus the, uh, Central American region, and the very top of the continent of South America. Featured are the great islands of the Caribbean, including Cuba and Hispaniola, and then of course the string of islands that radiate to the east from Hispaniola and circle down to the South American continent, the so-called Windward Islands. In this map we have two compass roses; each is the starting point for a series of lines called rhumb lines, thats r-h-u-m-b. Rhumb lines which could, and in many cases were, used by mariners to plot courses, at least portions of courses, as they navigated from one part of the world to another. Like so many maps of the day it also is rich with, uh, with illustrations – there are ships on the on the, uh, on the sea, there are various creatures – a lizard, a turtle, a snake and others – and circling the cartouche in the upper left-hand corner of this map. Again this map is called Insulae Americanae in Oceano Septentrionali, and it is a prize, prize edition of an early map of the Caribbean.

 

 

For more details, view the catalog record: https://library.villanova.edu/Find/Record/1935545

America: Noviter Delineata

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This map is a depiction by a mapmaker by the name of Hondius, Hendrikus Hondius, dating, uh, to roughly to 1630 (or) 1631. It is full of activity. Uh, there are galleons. There are large sailing ships. There is a conflict going on between two of them in the Pacific, the so-called Mar-del-Zur. And, uh, there is activity all over. At the very foot of South America, uh, there is a sea creature, a fairly large sea creature belching water – probably not a creature that the average mariner would want to run into. And a similar creature appears on the left-hand side.

There are various insets. Uh, one depicting the top of the world, the Arctic region. And one depicting the bottom of the world, the Antarctic, uh, region.

If, uh, if one looks through the map at various points where there may be a blank spot, the mapmaker has chosen to fill them in with some interesting animal life or other activity that characterized that part of the world. Uh, obviously, by this date, not too much was known by the interior either of South America or North America, and when one looks up to the North American portion of the map, there is a great deal of blank space, a great deal of geography yet to be discovered.

 

 

For more details, view the catalog record: https://library.villanova.edu/Find/Record/1933458

Polus Antarcticus

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This is a map, uh, by, uh, Johannes Janssonius of the, uh, Antarctic – “Polus Antarcticus.” This map was published in the first half of the 17th Century. And, again, uh, it reflects how little was actually known about that southernmost part of the planet. Mapmakers had been guessing for years about what might be down there; and there were only glancing blows struck by the earliest explorers. So, what you see on the map are a few hazy lines. One doesn’t know how they connect up. One doesn’t even know if they’re real, but there was a stab at it and that’s what this wonderful map shows. I particularly like the bird in the lower right-hand corner – an artist’s, um, guess, anyway, at what might actually, uh, be located there.

 

 

For more details, view the catalog record: https://library.villanova.edu/Find/Record/1691558