[INDIA & SOUTHEAST ASIA] Undecima Asiae Tabula
Striking ptolemaic map of South East Asia and India by Waldseemuller in very rare contemporary colours.
The map is bounded to the north by Scythia (Srythae) and Sericae (parts of China and Central Asia). The peninsula in the centre of the map corresponds to present-day Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia. The names of the cities are written in Latin.
This is one of the oldest maps of the region available.
The 1513 edition of Ptolemy's Geographia
Ptolemy's 1513 Geographiae is considered to be the most important edition (Stevens), and is the first modern atlas (World encompassed no. 56). For the first time, the 27 maps of Ptolemy are supplemented by the 20 maps of Martin Waldseemüller allowing for an easy comparison between old and new maps.
Historical context: René d'Anjou, Peer of France, King of Naples, titular King of Sicily and Jerusalem was passionate about the Orient and interested in the Arabic alphabet. His grandson, Duke René II of Lorraine, had a great interest in literature, arts and sciences, including geography. He created in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges together with Vautrin Lud, an ecclesiastical school under the protection of the duchy of Lorraine and the Vatican. Nicolas Lud, nephew of Vautrin and secretary of the duke, hosted the printing house which worked for the propagation of scientific works (geometry, geography, music...). Around 1507, he brought Mathias Ringmann, an Alsatian university professor who had published in Strasbourg in 1505 the account of Vespucci's travels (De ora Antartica) to Saint-Dié-des-Vosges. They were soon joined by Martin Waldseemüller, a cartographer, draughtsman and surveyor trained in Freiburg and introduced to printing in Basel by his uncle. Together with Jean Basin, a Latinist, these men formed the Gymnase Vosgien. In 1507, they published a large map of the world, renowned for displaying the name of America for the first time on a map.
They thought of a new edition of Ptolemy's Geography that would take into account the new discoveries. Waldsemüller had a copy of Ptolemy lent to him by the Dominicans in Basel from the Cardinal of Ragusa, John Stojkovic. Ringmann went to Italy to visit the Italian philosopher and humanist Jean-François Pico della Mirandola, who lent him another manuscript of Ptolemy. René II of Lorraine provided Waldseemüller with recent nautical charts that indicated the new discoveries. Unfortunately, the duke died in 1508, which led to the bankruptcy of the printing house. In 1511 Ringmann also died. An "agreement" with the Strasbourg lawyers Jacob Aesler and Georg Übelin, who claimed authorship of the work and tried to remove the traces of their predecessors, allowed Johann Schott to print the Geography in Strasbourg in 1513. However, the edition reflects the concerns of the members of the Vosges Gymnasium.