1598 Ortelius - Presbiteri Iohannis, sive, Abissinorum Imperii Descriptio [Prester John]
1598 Ortelius mythical kingdom of Prester John
Presbiteri Iohannis, sive, Abissinorum Imperii Descriptio
Abraham Ortelius, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum
44 x 37.6 cm (17.4 x 14.8 in)
This great map depicts the central African kingdom of Prester John, the mythical Christian priest-king who, according to legend, provided a bulwark against Barbarians and was an ally to the Crusaders. Ortelius designed this map himself using geographical information including Gastaldi's 1564 map of Africa.
Themap shows mythical twin lakes of Zaire and Zaflan as the origin of the Nile, with the Mountains of the Moon located as the source of the lakes. Two pairs of large elephants appear in the interior, and sea monsters and an Arabic ship (dhow) are depicted in the Atlantic.
Two large strapwork cartouches balance the sheet, one enclosing the title and the other with text of the legend. The dedication is to King David, with a long genealogy tracing Prester John's lineage back to that of the Biblical king.
Verso Text: French
A nice impression with original color on watermarked paper. There is light toning and some remnants of paper tape along the centerfold on verso.
Norwich #11; Van den Broecke #175.