Leen Helmink Antique Maps

China by Ortelius






Antwerp, 1584


36.4 x 46.6 cms


Copper plate engraving

Stock number





$ 4750


Cornerstone map of China published by Ortelius from 1584 onwards. The map had been compiled by Luiz Jorge de Barbuda, a Portuguese Jesuit missionary. West is at the top of the map. Three decorative cartouches. Pictures of Tartarian wagon-dwellers, sailing wagons, elephants and reindeer fill the unknown areas north and east of China.

The map is the "first" in many ways:
- The first map to show the Chinese Wall
- The first map or print to show sailing wagons
- The first map to name the Philippines
- The first western print to show (on verso) Chinese characters

Along the Chinese wall is the following text:

"Murus quadringentarum leacarum, inter montium crepidines a rege Chine / contra Tartarorum ab hac parte eruptiones, extructus."

which translates as:

"A wall of 400 leagues, between the banks of the hills, built by the King of China against the breaking in of the Tartars on this side."

"Ludovico Giorgio's map of China, adapted for the 1584 edition of Ortelius' 'Theatrum', was the first map of China to appear in a European atlas. 'Ludovico' was Luiz Jorge de Barbuda, a Portuguese cartographer and author of a 'Description of China'. He was a spy, too, and for his Spanish employers he 'discovered many secrets' among the old charts and rutters to which he had access."

(Tooley & Bricker).

"Compiled by Barbuda, a Portuguese Jesuit missionary, this famous map remained the standard map of China for about half a century. Barbuda used the signature 'Ludovico Georgio'."

(Moreland & Bannister).