Russiae, Moscoviae et Tartariae Descriptio (…) [Abraham ORTELIUS after , c. 1575]



Russiae, Moscoviae et Tartariae Descriptio (…) – Abraham Ortelius’s map of Russia, based upon Anthony Jenkinson’s rare map of Russia drawn in 1562, from Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, of which only 75 copies were printed. The map covers the region from the Gulf of Finland, Lithuania and the Black Sea to the Sur River, Tashkent, the Kossack Regions, Colmack, etc. The map is filled with fascinating indigenous scenes, including a scene in the lower right corner, above Tashkent, which describes the method of worship among the Kirgese peoples, which notes that: ‘The Kirgessen people live in troops or hordes. They have the following custom: when a priest performs a religious ceremony, he obtains blood, milk and dung of beasts of burden, and mixes it with earth. He pours this in a specific vessel and climbs a tree with it, and when there is a gathering, he sprinkles it over the people, and this sprinkling is considered to be divine, and is worshipped. When someone of them dies, that person is hung up in a tree by way of burial’. From Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first modern atlas. The map was engraved by Franz Hogenberg from an original by Anthony Jenkinson of the English Muscovy Company drawn in 1562. Anthony Jenkinson travelled to Bukhara in 1557-59 and to Russia three more times thereafter, but into Asia (as far as Persia) during only one of these trips. The vignettes are based upon Marco Polo’s travels, and include over a dozen indigenous and mythical scenes, costumed locals and animals. A scarce and desirable item.

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Russiae, Moscoviae et Tartariae Descriptio (…)

Copperplate engraving/etching with contemporary hand colouring. on hand laid (verge) paper.
Sheet size: 51,8 x 39,7 cm. Image size: 44,7 x 35 cm.

First published in 1570. From a German ed. of the ‘Theatrum …’ atlas by Ortelius. Ref: Van Den Broecke 162.

Made by Abraham Ortelius after Antonio Jenkensono. Abraham Ortelius was born 1528 in Antwerp. He studied mathematics, Greek and Latin and travelled a lot across Europe. He established a business in dealing with books and drawing maps. His first remarkable map was a 8 sheet world map in the year 1564, but only three copies have survived. In 1570 he issued the “Theatrum Orbis Terrarum”, the first modern “Atlas” with uniformly sized maps in a systematic collection. The term “Atlas” was not used until Mercator introduced it 20 years later. Most of the maps in Theatrum have been engraved by Frans Hogenberg. At the time of publication, the atlas was the most expensive book ever printed. Nevertheless it was a big success and around 7000 copies have been printed until 1612 in many editions and six different languages. Beside the Theatrum, Ortelius compiled a series of historical maps and published it in the “Parergon Theatri” which was bound with the Theatrum from 1579 onwards or published separately.

Condition: Very good, given age. Minor staining in the margins, not affecting image. Original middle fold as issued. General age-related toning and/or occasional minor defects from handling. Please study scan carefully.


Additional information

Dimensions 51 × 51 × 1 cm


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