India Extrema XXIIII Nova Tabula

Early edition of this important map c.16th map of Asia with images of a mermaid and representation of a large fish or whale. This is one of the earliest maps of the Asian continent made and was based on information … Read Full Description

$A 2,750

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S/N: MCOSMO-ASI-1545–436038
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Full Title:

India Extrema XXIIII Nova Tabula




One small spot in lower margin, on good condition, with centre fold as issued.


Hand coloured copper engraving.

Image Size: 

x 254mm

Paper Size: 

x 300mm
India Extrema XXIIII Nova Tabula - Antique Map from 1545

Genuine antique



Early edition of this important map c.16th map of Asia with images of a mermaid and representation of a large fish or whale.

This is one of the earliest maps of the Asian continent made and was based on information derived from Portuguese sources.

The Asian continent is shown with current knowledge, but Munster doesn’t resolve the north east coast of Asia and depicts it as joined to the Americas. Goa, the Portuguese’s stronghold on the subcontinent is shown, as is Sri Lanka, named Zaylon. The island of Sumatra is named Taprobana and Sumatra illustrating the confusion resulting from Ptolmey’s texts in which Munster stated that Taprobana was the largest in the world, a claim that Marco Polo also made in his scribed accounts of his travels from China to Persia. As a consequence many geographers and cartographers were understandably confused and often place both names on the island. Malacca which controls the important straits for shipping from the east was attacked and claimed by the Portuguese in 1512. From this base the Portuguese soon learnt the true source of the important source of Nutmeg and Cloves, “the spice islands”. These are shown and named (Moluccas, Gilolo and Ternate). The only possible source for the location of the Spice Islands would have been from Portuguese sources as the Dutch were not to make their presence felt for another 50 years. Below Taprobana is an enormous fish and a frolicking mermaid .

This early edition is identified by the lack of latitude and longitude which was added around the map in 1552 and other later editions.

Munster, S. Cosmographia. Latin text edition.

Fell, T. Early Maps of South-East Asia. Singapore 1991: p.32, ill. p.33.
Parry, D. The Cartography of the East Indian Islands Insulae Indiae Orientalis. London 2005: p.18,67, ill.pl. 3.8, p.66.
Clancy, R. The Mapping of Terra Australia. Sydney 1995: Map 5.4, ill. p. 64..
Suarez, T. Early Mapping of Southeast Asia. Singapore 1999: pp.127-129 ill.Fig. 72, p.128.
Stevens, H. Ptolemy's Geography. London 1973:.
Yeo, J. Mapping the Continent of Asia. Singapore, 1994: : 2, pg.9.
Walter, L. Japan a Cartographic Vision. New York 1994: : 8A, ill. p. 96.

Sebastian Munster (1488 - 1552)

Sebastian Munster (1488-1552) was an important German cartographer, cosmographer and Hebrew scholar who is best known for his 1540 Latin translation and publication of Ptolemy's Geography titled, Cosmographia. Prior to the introduction of printing for books, of works such as Ptolemy's groundbreaking Geography, they could only be copied individually by scribes, consequently this slow process inhibited the dissemination of geographic knowledge to a wide audience. As information became available especially of the new world, Munster found that Ptolemy's theories were contradicted by these new discoveries that were related to him by ships captains and explorers. One such theory was a land locked Indian Ocean which Ptolemy had shown in his Geography and which was being disproved by the trading ships returning from China and the Spice Islands with their precious cargos. As a result Munster began to add new maps to his own Cosmographia that reflected these new discoveries and made available to a wider audience this changing knowledge of the world.

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