Fascinating map of America, illustrating a number of the great myths of the 17th and early 18th Centuries.
The map illustrated Father Jean Francois Lafitau's Moeurs des Sauvages Ameriquains, comparées aux moeurs de premiers temps, a work on the customs of the American Indians compared with the customs of the primitive times, first published in Paris in 1724.
In the Northwest, the massive land bridge which nearly connects the NW Coast of America to the NE Coast of Asia is still present. In the South, a massive unknown Southern Continent is shown, with only a sliver of water between the Southern Continent and South America. The river systems in North America are very curious, including two rivers in the Southwest that cross paths and a curious depiction of the Mississippi River drainage system trending northwest.
Lafitau's book is one of the earliest, most detailed and accurate first-hand accounts of the religious, political and domestic culture of the Iroquois and Huron Indians and a pioneering work in empirical ethnology. Lafitau discovered matriliny and outlined the classification kinship system of the Iroquois which Morgan, who had not read Lafitau, was to rediscover a century later. It was not until the beginning of the twentieth century that full recognition of his contribution to comparative ethnology was accorded.
Lafitau's observations were gathered during a long residence among the Iroquois. A Jesuit missionary, he came to Quebec in 1711 and served at the Iroquois mission of Sault Saint-Louis from 1712 to 1717. "We have nothing so exact upon the subject of which he treats. His parallel of ancient nations with the American Indians is very ingenious, and exhibits as great familiarity with the nations of antiquity in the old world, as with the aborigines of the new." (Charlevoix) "Lafitau continues to hold high rank as an original authority, though his book is overlaid with a theory of the Tartaric origin of the red race.