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World map in Bordone's Isolario, Benedetto Bordone, 1528 During Mughal Emperor Babur 1526–1530

Babur 1526–1530
Stacked Wooden Logs


This simple, colorful woodcut world map measures 32.5 x 16.5 cm (12.8 x 6.5 in.), was published in 1528 by Bordone in his Libro di Benedetto Bordone . . . , or Isolario [book of islands] in Venice. It was long considered to be the first use of this type of projection for a printed world map. However, an earlier world map by Francesco Rosselli (Slide #313.1) from ca. 1508 also uses this oval projection and may have served as a major source for this relatively coarse example by Bordone. Underlining the geographic landmasses is a system of parrallels and meridians. The perimeter oval in Bordone's map has an axial ratio of exactly 1:2, the meridians are drawn at intervals of 20°, the parallels at intervals of 11.25° (equal to a ratio of 180:16). The meridians are not, however, exact ellipses (an apprarently difficult task for cartographers in the 16th century).

Bordone took into account the new discoveries, such as the connection of North and South America, the separation of North America from Asia and the spuriousness of an Arctic archipelago. However, this map alo shows less than current geographical thought by the shape of South America, the lingering use of the "Tiger Leg" of southeast Asia along with the remnants of the Ptolemaic land-bridge between Africa and southeast Asia, the poor rendering of India and the complete elimination of the Antarctic landmass. North America bears the inscription Terra del laboratore; South America possesses the label Mondo Novo, the extremity of which is about 30° south latitude. While not shown on this world map, the termination of South Amewrica is only intended to represent the northern shores of a strait, which is absolutely marked in another small map in the Isolario and contains the legend: Stretto p[ar]te del mondo novo. The other names are replaced by graceful italic script and numerals which refer to a nomenclature on the back of one of the large maps.

The scholar Lelewel expressed the opinion that the map may have been completed as early as 1521 based upon some text on the verso of the title page of the Isolario . However, Henry Harrisse finds other evidence to reject this argument for this map, as well for book as a whole. The Isolario was a cartographical form that had developed in Italy during the 15th century. Bordone's work was the second printed book to belong to this genre. It was modeled on various Ptolemy editions and on the Isolario by Bartolomeo dalli Sonetti of 1485. Bordone's book contains 107 maps, plans and drawings. The maps are all similar, with clearly drawn outlines, wind roses with eight broken lines and the maps placed in a square frame. This type of book form was followed by others such as Camocio and Porcacchi. There were also later editions of Bordone's work in 1534, 1547 and ca, 1565, all printed from the same wood blocks in Venice.

Location: British Library, Maps C.7.b.10

Size: 32.5 x 16.5 cm (12.8 x 6.5 in.)

Harrisse, H., The Discovery of North America, pp. 447, 559-561, nos. 74 and 178
*Nordenskiöld, E.E., Facsimile Atlas, pp. 90, 10-104, Plate XXXIX
The World Encompassed, no. 83
*Shirley, R. The Mapping of the World, no. 59, PLate 55
*Wolff, H. , America, Early Maps of the New World, pp. 68-69, no. 84 (c)

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Very good information.

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Shah Sharaf Barlas


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