An excellent example of Lorenz Fries' 1525 rendition of India and Southeast Asia, this map reflects early modern cartographic depictions of the region. Emphasizing Southeast Asia, India, Sri Lanka, and the Indian Ocean, it is a condensed version of Waldseemüller's 1513 map—recognized as the first modern exploration of this territory. The map has further antecedents in the southeast sheet of Waldseemuller's 1507 and 1516 wall maps of the world, which in turn draw on the circa 1503 Caverio chart.
Lorenz Fries, the early 16th-century physician-turned-cartographer, is best known for his adaptations of Martin Waldseemüller's maps. This 1525 map, originally published in 1522, is notable for being one of the first to depart from Claudius Ptolemy's work, which had dominated representations of the region until this time.
The early 16th century marked significant advancements in global exploration and navigation, particularly by the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean. This map serves as an important document reflecting these historic voyages, capturing new insights and details about India and Southeast Asia that had been recently discovered. Its role in charting the course of these explorations underscores its significance in the historical record of cartography.
Transcription of Annotations
This map is enriched with various illustrations that offer glimpses into the indigenous peoples and customs of the region. These artistic details, characteristic of early modern cartography, intertwine geography with local life and customs, providing an added layer of cultural and anthropological interest. Further depth is provided by numerous annotations, primarily sourced from a series of maps created by Martin Waldseemüller in the first decades of the 16th century, as previously noted. The content of these annotations draws significantly from the exploratory accounts of Marco Polo, melding historical exploration narratives with a rich tapestry of geographical and cultural insights.
In India, we see the following annotations:
In istis m[on]ta[ni]s nascit[ur] pip[er] in magna copiaeta pigmeis [qui]bus [iugeai griub(us)?] bell[um] est plantur. [Pepper grows in great abundance in these mountains and is planted by the pygmies, who are always at war.]
In his book on the original Waldseemuller annotations, The Long Legends: Transcription, Translation, and Commentary, Chet Van Duzer was unable to locate the source for listing pepper as a spice grown in India, though it is referred to that way at least twice in the original Waldseemuller wall maps.
Hic dominatur Rex Narsinge o[m]ina reg[num] Indie pote[n]tiss[imus] c[uius] imp[er]ii curc[um]fer[en]tia ext[en]dit[ur] plus [quam] 3000 [miliaria?]. Rex [habet] 200 oxores [quae?] m[or]tuo cremant[ur]. [Here reigns King Narsingh, the most powerful among all the kings of India, whose empire's circumference extends more than 3000 [miles?]. The king has 200 wives who, when he dies, will be burned.]
Although the original Waldseemuller annotation was longer than what appears here, Van Duzer's commentary is worth contemplating for context on the preceding note:
Varthema provides a description of Narsinga, mentioning that the king possesses 40,000 horses. However, no specific details align between Waldseemüller's account and that of Varthema. Some details provided by Waldseemüller originate from Joseph the Indian, who asserts that the King of Narsinga is immensely powerful, with a kingdom spanning 3000 miles. When this king engages his enemies in battle, he is said to bring along eight hundred elephants, four thousand horses, and a countless number of foot soldiers. While the reported number of elephants varies, it's clear that Waldseemüller utilized information from Joseph the Indian.
Additional details are extracted from a passage in the Anonymous Narrative, referring to a king named Naremega residing in the mountains near Calicut, which Waldseemüller accurately associated with Narsinga. This passage reveals that the king has two to three hundred wives, who are all burned with him upon his death.
Nonetheless, Waldseemüller also incorporated information from a very recent source. Details regarding the considerable Christian population under the king's rule and his distinctive friendship with the Portuguese do not feature in any of the sources that Waldseemüller references in the extensive text block on sheet 9.
In East Asia, we find the following note:
Hic sunt galli et galline magne non hab[en]tes plumas seu p[en]nas: sed lanam sicut oues bona optima edentes. [Here are large roosters and hens, not having feathers or quills, but wool like good, excellent sheep.]
Van Duzer: "Material about these chickens appears in both Marco Polo and Odoric, and in this case Waldseemüller made use of Polo, for Odoric does not mention the birds’ eggs. This legend is copied by Johann Schöner on his manuscript globe of 1520."
On or near the "Dragon's Tail" (i.e., present-day Southeast Asia), we find the following notes:
In istis m[on]tib[us] reperi[un]t[ur] adam[an]tas Smaragdi et alii lapides preciosi. [In these mountains, diamonds, emeralds, and other precious stones are found.]
Van Duzer: "This legend seems to be a duplicate of Legend 4.26 on the Valley of Diamonds mentioned by Marco Polo."
Lamai Regn[um]. In regno Lamai [sunt?] arg[en]ti minea [aurum] / sericum / [que] ad malacham transportant[ur] [Kingdom of Lamai. In the kingdom of Lamai, there are mines of silver [and] gold / silk / which are transported to Malacca.]
The province is labeled "Jamay" on the Waldseemuller map. Van Duzer: "Jamay is a province in Laos, but the place name does not appear in any of the sources that Waldseemüller lists on sheet 9 of the Carta marina. I have not been able to determine the source of this legend. It probably comes from the same source as the following legend about the island of Timor."
[Timonia] Hic nascit[ur] rubeum et candidum sandal[um]. [Timor. Here, red and white sandalwood is grown.]
Lorenz (Laurent) Fries (ca. 1485-1532) was born in Mulhouse, Alsace. He studied medicine, apparently spending time at the universities of Pavia, Piacenza, Montpellier and Vienna. After completing his education, Fries worked as a physician in several places before settling in Strasbourg in about 1519. While in Strasbourg, Fries met the Strasbourg printer and publisher Johann Grüninger, an associate of the St. Dié group of scholars formed by, among others, Walter Lud, Matthias Ringmann and Martin Waldseemüller.
From 1520 to 1525, Fries worked with Grüninger as a cartographic editor, exploiting the corpus of material that Waldseemüller had created. Fries' first venture into mapmaking was in 1520, when he executed a reduction of Martin Waldseemüller's wall map of the world, first published in 1507. While it would appear that Fries was the editor of the map, credit is actually given in the title to Peter Apian. The map, Tipus Orbis Universalis Iuxta Ptolomei Cosmographi Traditionem Et Americ Vespucii Aliorque Lustrationes A Petro Apiano Leysnico Elucubrat. An.o Dni MDXX, was issued in Caius Julius Solinus' Enarrationes, edited by Camers, and published in Vienna in 1520.
Fries’ next project was a new edition of the Geographia of Claudius Ptolemy, which was published by Johann Grüninger in 1522. Fries evidently edited the maps, in most cases simply producing a reduction of the equivalent map from Waldseemüller's 1513 edition of the Geographie Opus Novissima, printed by Johann Schott. Fries also prepared three new maps for the Geographia, of Southeast Asia and the East Indies, China, and the world, but the geography of these derives from Waldseemüller's world map of 1507.
The 1522 edition of Fries' work is very rare, suggesting that the work was not commercially successful. In 1525, an improved edition was issued, with a re-edit of the text by Willibald Pirkheimer, from the notes of Regiomontanus (Johannes Müller von Königsberg).
After Grüninger's death in ca. 1531, the business was continued by his son Christoph, who seems to have sold the materials for the Ptolemy to two Lyon publishers, the brothers Melchior and Gaspar Trechsel, who published a joint edition in 1535, before Gaspar Trechsel published an edition in his own right in 1541.