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Cartographica Helvetica


Luciano Tajoli:

The two planispheres by Fra Mauro (c. 1460)

Cartographica Helvetica 9 (1994) 13–16


Around 1460 the monk Fra Mauro produced one of the most extraordinary cartographic works of the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, the original of this round parchment map measuring 195 cm in diameter is not preserved. The map under discussion in this article is a copy dating from the same period. It was discovered in San Michele monastery on Murano island near Venice and was brought to the Biblioteca Marciana in 1822.

The general concept is based on the medieval T-O maps and on Ptolmey's 'Geography'. For the first time Japan (Zimpagu) is represented on an European map. Furthermore, the map contains relevant information, dating mostly from antique Arabian and Portuguese experiences and knowledge, on India, the coast of Africa and the navigable Cape of Good Hope (Diab).

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