The most influential map of Eastern Asia published in the 16th century

Gastaldi, Giacomo. Il Disegno della Terza Parte Dell' Asia.

Rome, 1561.

74 x 48 cm.


A fine example of Giacomo Gastaldi's map of Southeast Asia, China, and India, perhaps the single most influential map of the region published in the 16th century.

Gastaldi's map has a remarkable history, one that presents a microcosm of Italian mapmaking in the middle of the 16th century. It begins with the publication of a single section in 1559, which was intended as a separate map. Additional sections were added in 1561, creating the portion of the existing map which extends south to the Equator. In 1565, two additional sections were added, in order to show all of Indonesia and the neighbouring islands as far south as Java Minor.

"In its original form the map extended only to the equator, so that most of the Indonesian islands were not included. To remedy this, in about 1565, two narrow sheets were made by the great Italian engraver Paolo Forlani to supplement the main body of Gastaldi's map [...] This lower addition bears an inscription in the lower left corner which reads 'si vende...' [...] indicating the location of the shop of the publisher Bertelli" (Suarez).

Of all of Gastaldi's Asian continental maps, this one more than any other "had a major influence on the work of Ortelius and de Jode [...] In their representation of the coastlines his maps are superior to all previously known maps of Asia, either drawn by hand or printed" (Schilder, in: The Map Collector 17, p. 7).

On the right-hand side of the map, Gastaldi provides a list of about 100 place names on the map, showing both their ancient and modern names. In his excellent study of Gastaldi's maps of Asia and their relationship to the accounts of Marco Polo's travels, Nordinskold notes that while Gastaldi has clearly incorporated information from Marco Polo's travels, Gastaldi relied also upon the accounts of other contemporary travelers to the East. Most notably, the dedication to Marcus Fugger (1529-97) is strong evidence that Gastaldi had access to the Fugger family library, one of the most important libraries compiled in the 15th and 16th centuries. During the 16th century, the Fugger Library was perhaps the best private library in the world, surpassing even the Vatican Library.

Nordinskold goes on to note: "Finally, it must be remembered that Gastaldi, under the guidance of Ramusio, is supposed to have aided in repairing or repainting the famous wall-maps in Sala dello scudo in Venice [...] If such was the case, it may be considered probable that the monumental maps of Africa and Asia by Gastaldi have had some connection to [Gastaldi's map of Asia], that these copper-plate engravings are a reproduction of the originals of the wall maps in that form which was given them in the middle of the 16th century". Quirino notes that Gastaldi's map is the first appearance of the name "Philippines" ("Philippina") on a printed document.

The map is rare on the market. We note no examples of this first edition of the map on at auction or in recorded dealer catalogs in at least 15 years.


Tooley, Italian Atlases 63. Karrow 30/92 (note). Woodward, Forlani 36 (note). Suarez, South East Asia, pp. 130-157 Quirino, Philippine Cart., p. XV & 95. Nordinskold, The Influence of the "Travels of Marco Polo" on Jacobo Gastaldi's Maps of Asia, in: The Geographical Journal 13, No. 4.

Art.-Nr.: BN#50817 Schlagwörter: , ,