Leen Helmink Antique Maps

Tartaria by Ortelius




Tartaria Sive Magni Chami Regni


Antwerp, 1570


35.0 x 46.9 cms


Copper plate engraving

Stock number





$ 2250


A superb map showing Tartaria, Cathay (China), Japan (closer to America than to Asia!), and California. The strait of Anian separates Asia and America, and a navigable North-Eastern passage is shown from Europe to Japan and China, complete with sailing ship. China itself is on the map twice, once as Marco Polo's Cathay and once as the China that the Portuguese had visited by sea. Scale ca 1 : 20,000,000.

In California are the seven legendary cities of Cibola (only six are marked), where the Indians claimed that gold was to be found in abundance, and that the streets and roofs were paved with it.

Many legends are spread around the map, referring to the whereabouts of the lost tribes of Israel (they have to be somewhere!), to Marco Polo, and to the classical geography texts of Strabo, Ptolemy and Pliny. The silk route is shown prominently. No trace of Korea.

The map combines the latest explorations by the Dutch (Vaigatz, Colgoyen), the Portuguese (China, Japan) and the Spanish California) with medieval knowledge (Marco Polo's Cathay, Zipangri, Falcon Island, Tangut, etc.) and with knowledge from classical antiquity (Pliny's Cape Tabin and Scythian Ocean).

"Unlike his map of America, this derives its cartography from Ortelius' own large world map of 1564. This is a very early depiction of the northern Pacific. Its main feature is the 'STRETTO DI ANIAN'. This increased the public awareness of the 1561 Giacomo Gastaldi theory of a strait between the continents of Asia and America. At its southern entrance an enlarged Japan dominates, below which a note states that a large amount of the information in Asia eminates from the writings of Marco Polo. The west coast of North America differs from his map of America in that the peninsula is broader, some different names appear, and others are lacking."


"In the West, this map bears no relationship to the preceding one [the map of Russia]. Still less is there any connection between the map of Asia and the Jenkinson map. Ortelius's map of Asia includes almost all the details which appear on the map of Tartary. Apart from showing the Anian strait (= Bering strait), this map can hardly be said to have any special function. Its sources must have been the same as those used for the map of Asia [which followed Gastaldi]."


[Map of Tartaria or the kingdom of the great Cham].

(Bottom left corner:)
"Cum Priuilegio".
[With privilege]

(Textblocks, from top to bottom, from left to right:)

"Nepthalitarû | horda Nepthalitæ ab una 10. Tribuum Israelis nomine | Neptali dicti sunt et post Dani:|tas qui in qui in castigatione Aquilona:|ri Danmarchi dicti sunt, ob Rache|lis Balbah ius secundo in loco Hu|dorû sive Iehudeorum sunt positi | et 476 sal anno contra Perosa | victores fuere, Euthalitas male | vocant ceteri".
[The Nephalites are named Neptali after one of the 10 tribes with a Hebrew name, and after the Danites, who by way of punishment were called the Danes of the dark North, and they were on account of the claims of Rachel Balbah placed to the side, in the area of the Hudores or Iehudeores; in the year 476 they were victorious in their battle against Perosa. Others call them incorrectly Euthalites.

(Next textblock:)
"OCEANVS SCYTHICVS| dulcis est Plinio auctore, qui multas in eo | insulas eße dicit, vt etiam M. Paul: Vene:|tus: sed neuter neque situm neque numerû tradit".
[The Scythian ocean, according to Plinius, has sweet water, and he also says it contains many islands, as M. Paulus [Marco Polo] also says, but neither of the two tells about their number or location].

(Next texblock:)
"Tabor seu Tybur vmbilicariaue Tota:|rorum regio, vbi licet olim libros sacros | perdidißent, sunt tamen vniti sub uno | rege, qui 1540. in Galliam vsque ad regem | Franciscum id nominis primum venit, et | postea a Carolo V. Mantuæ ignæ sue infide:|litatis poenas luit: quia secrete solicitabat | Christianos principes ad Iudaismum, de | qua re Carolum V. alloquutus erat".
[Tabor or Tybur, centre of the area of the Tartars, where once the Holy Books got lost, yet they are united under one king, who in 1540 first reached France and king Franciscus, and later, at the initiative of Charles the Fifth was burnt at the stake for his heresy, because he had secretly endeavoured to convert Christian kings to the Jewish religion, about which he had spoken with Charles the Fifth.]

(Next textblock:)
"4 Esd. v.13, ARSARETH. | Hic 10. tribus seceßere et Totatorû siue Tar:|tatorum loco Scythicæ substituerunt. Vnde Gauthæ | seu Gauthay à summa Dei gloria aßerenda ibi | dicti sunt, et hinc Cathay clariß: Regnum".
[4 Ezdra 13; Arsareth. Here the ten tribes retreated, and changed from the Tatar or Tartar area to Scythia. Since then they are called Gauths or Gauthens, confirming Gods highest glory, and here lies the splendid kingdom of Cathai.]

(Next textblock:)
"TVRCHESTAN Regio | vnde cismontani 10. Tribuum socij ante | 900 años sunt accersiti à Persis contra Isma:|elitæ Mahumedis arma".
[Turkestan. The area from which the 10 tribes as allies living on this side of the mountain range have been called 900 years ago by the Persians to fight the armies of Ismael the Muslim.]

(Next block:)
"Magnus Cham, (quod | linga Tartarorum Im:|perator sonat) max:|imus Asiæ princeps".
[The great Khan (which in the language of the Tatars means emperor), the highest ruler of Asia.]

(Next block:)
"ARGON. Christianorum olim | regnû noie Presbiteri Iois in Asia erat, | à D. Thoma ibi institutum, vt Roma:|næ corresponderet ecclesiæ, per Presbi:|terum Ioêm Africanum Romæ obediens | Et antequã a Gothanis vinceretur | Criue Romoue nuncupabantur".
[Argon. Once there was in Asia a Christian kingdom, known to Prester John, and D. Thomas founded it [this city] in this place, so that it was in contact with the church of Rome, and was subjected to Rome through Prester John of Africa. Before it was defeated by the Goths, it was known as Crive Romove.]

(Cartouche at left bottom:)
Continet hæc ta:|bula oêm Tartariam, cum | reliqua Asiæ Orientalioris usque Oce:|anû Eoum parte, Magno Chamo obedi:|ente: Cuius imperium Obij fl: Kataia la:|cu: Volga fl: Mari Caspio, Chesel flu: | Usonte monte, Thebet regione, Ca:|romoram fluuio, & Oceano | terminatur".
[This map contains the area of Tartaria, with the remaining part of East Asia to the Morning Ocean, subject to the great Khan whose might is bounded by the river Ob, Lake Kataia, the Volga, the Caspian Sea, the river Chesel, the mountains of Usson, the area of Tibet, the river Caromora and the Ocean.]

(5 lines in the ocean near Japan:)
"Japan insula, à M. Paulo | Veneto Zipangri dicta, | olim Chrÿse, a Magno | Cham olim bello petita | sed frustra".
[The isle of Japan, called Zipangri by Marco Polo of Venice, formerly [called] Chr├┐se, once attacked by the great Khan in war, but without success.]

(Left top:)
"Hic magnus prouentus | calami aromatici".
[Here you find great quantities of aromatic reeds.]

(Left side middle:)
"Hic Rubini | gemmæ re:|periuntur".
[Here ruby stones are found.]

"TANGVT. Hic artê | imprimendi ante mille vt | ferunt, annos habuerunt".
[TANGVT. Here the art of printing was invented thousand years ago, as they say.]

"Mons Althaÿ, vbi oês Tartariæ | imperatores sepeliuntur, ab Haÿ:|tone Armeno sub noîe Belgi:|an describi videtur".
[Mount Althay, where all emperors of Tartaria are buried, seems to have been described by Haithon the Armenian under the name of Belgian.]

(Centre left:)
TARTARIA, "Quæ Sar:|matiam, Asiaticam, & vtramque Scythiam | veterum compræhendit".
[Tartaria which comprises Asian Sarmatia and Outer Scythia of the ancients.]

(Top centre:) "Schyticum | prom:" | Danorum | "siue Danitarum | horda 1. deiectio siue | descensio aut expulsio".
[Scythian promontory of the Dani or Daniti, a tribe which has disappeared because it has been expelled or has left.]

(Centre top:)
"Insula falco:|num, M Paul: | Veneti".
[The isle of the falcons, according to Marco Polo of Venice.]

"Cambalu Cataiæ | metropolis, habet | 28.mill: in | circuitu".
[Cambalu, the metropolis of Cathay, is 28 miles in circumference.]

(Bottom centre:)
"His montibus eru:|untur lapides, quib: | utuntur ad focum | loco lignorum".
[From these mountains stones are thrown up which are used as a fire instead of wood.]

(Right centre:)
"Quinsai id est | ciuitas celi".
[Quinsai means community of heaven.]

(Van den Broecke).