Sexta Asie Tabula.
Double-page woodcut map, fine original hand-colour, with near-contemporary manuscript vignette illustrations of an Ababeel bird, Makkah and Kaaba in pen and wash heightened in gold. 414 x 572 mm. Framed (78 x 56 cm).
The first-ever printed woodcut map of the Arabian peninsula, here in original hand colour and adorned with unique, hand-drawn illumination added by a contemporary artist. The map was published in the first atlas printed outside Italy; it was the first atlas to be illustrated with woodcut maps. Remarkably, the hand-drawn vignette illustrations include a depiction of the relief of Makkah, besieged by Abrahah, through the Ababeel birds, who pelted the attacking army of war elephants with burning stones from the pits of the fires of hell. The image shows a gigantic blue-and-gilt Ababeel bird above the city, engulfed in flames - not only one of the earliest depictions of Makkah but also an amazing example of cross-cultural exchange of narratives during the early Renaissance, proving a Western illustrator's familiarity with a Middle Eastern tradition famously referenced in the Qur'an (sura 105, known as al-Fil, The Elephant): "Wa 'arsala 'Aalayhim tayran 'Ababeel, Tarmeehim bihijaratin min sijjeel" ("And He sent against them birds in flocks, Striking them with stones of burning clay"). No other example with these illustrations of Makkah is known, nor are they contained in any printed edition of Ptolemy.
Campbell, Earliest Printed Maps, p. 179-210. Schreiber 5032. Tibbetts 8 (p. 37). The Heritage Library, Islamic Treasures, s. v. "Maps". Cf. Heritage Library, Qatar, p. 8f (illustration). Carter, Robert A. Sea of Pearls, p. 21.