The Earliest Reasonably Obtainable Modern Map of the Arabian Peninsula and Sea Region. The First Derivative of the 1559 Gastaldi Map.
Fine example of De Jode's modern map of the Middle East, from his Speculum Orbis Terrae, published in Antwerp in 1593 and engraved by Joannes & Lucas Van Deutecum.
This rare map shows the Arabian Peninsula in fine detail. A number of interesting geographical features appear. The Persian Gulf is given a second name - the Mare El Catif, named after the port of Qatif near Bahrain. Near this name, two islands appear, which allude to Bahrain and an erroneously mapped Qatar; Bahrain is mentioned as an important pearl-diving center. Detail goes eastwards to the western coast of India, which was heavily influenced by Arabian culture at the time.
The map is particularly notable for placing the Arabian Peninsula in the context of the western Indian Sea. Ortelius, in his slightly earlier atlas, shows Arabia as part of his map of the Turkish Empire. By focusing on the Arabian Sea instead, De Jode acknowledges the important trade routes that connect the maritime-facing Peninsula eastward, which provided much of the source of wealth for this region at the time. This shift in perspective is akin to how the classical geographers used to visualize the Peninsula, as an important and globalized hub for trading. This is alluded to in the title.
The complete title reads:
Secundae partis Asiae: typus qua oculis subijciuntur itinera nautarum qui Calecutium Indiae mercandorum aromatum caufa fre quentant, ac eorum quoqz qui terrestri itinere ade unt Suacham, Laccam, in domino Praeto Iani, nec non eorum qui Aden et ormum inuifunt, et Balsaram quoque castrum, supra Euphratem fluuium situm, omnia suis gradibus subiecta, cum longitudinis tum latitudinis / Iacobo Castaldo pedemontano authore ; Gerhardus de Iode excudebat
This roughly translates to:
The Second part of Asia: On which the eyes are drawn to the voyages of the sailors who go to Calcutia to trade in the spices of India, and of those who go by land, to places such as Suach and Laccam, in the land of lord Prester John, in addition to those who visit Aden and Ormus, and also the castle of Balsara [Bassra]. above the Euphrates, the river's location, all subject to its degrees, with length and breadth. Giacomo Gastaldi is the Piedmontese Author of this Map.
As previously alluded to, the map was prepared by Gerard De Jode and based on to Giacomo Gastaldi's highly influential map of 1559. De Jode's delineation of Arabia is vastly superior to the contemporary maps of Ortelius, showing far more accuracy and detail. Extending from the Nile to Afghanistan and centered on the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf, the map depicts what was then still among the most important trading centers of the commercial world.
Mare El Katif
In the 16th century, the Ottomans added the Red Sea and Persian Gulf Coast to the empire and claimed suzerainty over the interior. The main objective of this was to thwart Portuguese attempts to attack the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. The Ottoman Turks conquered the area around Basra and invaded the Arabian Coast as far as Qatif, which they occupied, removing the Portuguese from the region. The Turks adopted the names Gulf of Basrah, Gulf of Qatif and Gulf of Arabia. However, on European maps, starting in the 1570s, the name Mare Elcatif began to appear. This would continue well into the 17th century.
One of the great rarities of sixteenth-century mapmaking, the De Jode family's Speculum Orbis Terrarum represents over twenty-five years of work shared between two generations. The work was published in two editions, first by Gerard de Jode in 1578 and then in an expanded edition by his son, Cornelis, in 1593.
The Speculum is the second general atlas of the world, after Ortelius' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. In Antwerp, in 1570, Ortelius published the first modern atlas; that is, a set of uniform maps with supporting text gathered in book form. Previously, there were other bound map collections, specifically, the Italian Lafreri atlases, but these were sets of maps—not necessarily uniform—selected and bound together on demand.
The first edition of Gerard De Jode’s atlas was published in Antwerp in 1578. Gerard De Jode (1509-1591) released his atlas in a golden age of Dutch atlas production: Ortelius’ atlas was released in 1570, also in Antwerp; the first town atlas was in 1572, the first pocket atlas in 1577, the first regional atlas in 1579, the first nautical atlas in 1584, and the first historical atlas in 1595. De Jode’s atlas was intended as competition for Ortelius’. Mercator was also preparing an atlas at the time, and corresponded with Ortelius, but it would not appear in full until 1595, a year after Mercator’s death.
Although the Speculum was ready as early as 1573, it was not published until 1578. This is most likely due to Ortelius’ influence and his privilege over atlas production, which expired just before De Jode finally published. The atlas was the result of collaboration between De Jode, the geographer Jan van Schille of Antwerp, German physician Daniel Cellarius, and the etchers Joannes and Lucas van Doetecum.
Although never as successful as Ortelius’ Theatrum, the Speculum did get republished in a second edition in 1593, two years after De Jode’s death, by Arnold Coninx. After his death, Gerard’s son, Cornelis (1568-1600), and his wife, Paschina, then ran the shop. Unfortunately, Cornelis died young in 1600, aged only 32, and the stock and plates were sold to the publisher Joan Baptista Vrients. Vrients had also recently purchased the plates for Theatrum, giving him a monopoly over Antwerp atlas publication. Vrients acquired the De Jode atlas plates only to suppress them in favor of the Ortelius plates, thus the De Jode atlas maps are quite rare on the market today.
Scholarly and historical comparison between the Speculum and the Theatrum varies. The great cartographers of the late sixteenth- and early seveneenth-centuries, including Montanus, van den Keere, and von Aitzing, used both as sources, and Hondius compared the former work favorably against the latter. Later scholarly review notes less consistency in the cartography in de Jode's work, particularly in some of the Germanic regions, although the craftsmanship of the engraving is highly praised.