Rare Early Photograph on 4 Sheets -- One of the Most Significant Achievements of Early Modern Cartography -- The First Map and Geographical Treatise Created in a Western European Workshop for a Non-Western Audience
Fine early 4 sheet photographic example of the Hajji Ahmed world map, "Fully Illustrated Exposition of the World in Its Entirety," made in Venice in 1559. The map is a towering landmark of contemporary geographical knowledge, incorporating the most up to date geographical information from 1559, as well as the earliest geographical treatise in the Turkish Ottoman language.
This 4 sheet photographic image is from the collection of Edward Luther Stevenson (1859-1944), noted map scholar, whose papers now reside at Yale University.
One of the map titles reads:
Whoever wishes to know the true shape of the world, their minds shall be filled with light and their breast with joy.
Created in an unknown Venetian workshop, the Hajji Ahmed (Haci Ahmet in Turkish) cordiform map of the world is the earliest known Turkish language work of any kind to be designed for publication and sale in the Ottoman market. With the exception of two earlier charts by the famous cartographer Piri Re'is (d.1554), which now survive only in fragmentary form, the Hajji Ahmed map also ranks as the oldest stand-alone Turcophone world map (Casale, 80). The copious text surrounding the map, intricately and painstakingly inscribed along the map's outer margins, is among the most extensive original Turkish-language geographical treatises to have survived from the sixteenth century.
As noted by Casale, the map and its surrounding text should be read as an original and remarkably compelling work of geography, presenting a picture of the Ottoman state that is defined both geographically and historically through its relationship to the twin legacies of ancient Rome and Alexander the Great.
The V L Menage Article 'The Map of Hajji Ahmed' and Its Makers in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 21, No. 1/3 (1958), pp. 291-314 references several early reproductions, including one done for the British Museum in 1929.
Edward Luther Stevenson was among the most important scholars of early cartography active at the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. He was responsible for numerous cartobibliographic books, including the first translation of Ptolemy to English, as well as a series of impressive facsimile maps produced while he was at the Hispanic Society of New York. Dr. Stevenson viewed facsimiles as integral to the study of early cartography, and he committed himself to building an unparalleled collection of photographs of early maps and globes. Much of his collection was donated to Yale University after his death (click on the title link above for about that), but the present item comes from a large collection of photos, manuscripts, and related material that were part of Stevenson's library, but were not donated to Yale. It is truly an impressive collection and many of the items, though reproductions, have serious antiquarian merit. As Alexander O. Vietor said about Stevenson collection that went to Yale "this is the stuff of which great libraries are made."