Joan Blaeu

Nova totius terrarum orbis, Amsterdam 1648






Joan Blaeu


Nova totius terrarum orbis


La grande mappa di Blaeu è incisa su 21 indipendenti fogli, riuniti insieme ed incollati sopra una tela di lino delle dimensioni di 205 cm x 299 cm .

Negli angoli superiori sono riportati i due emisferi celesti, di 35 cm di diametro.


Per cortesia di

  The Kraus Map Collection

riporto di seguito la scheda in inglese che illustra la mappa:


 Engraved map, with contemporary, probably original, with hand coloring.

On 21 large folio sheets, joined together and laid down on linen. Contemporary silk tapes sewn to the lateral edges.

 The map measures 2043 x 2995 mm . (including text which measures 360 x 299 mm .)

Despite the fact that it exists in two quite distinct states, only two complete copies of the map, with the accompanying text, are known to exist; the present one, in the first state, and the one in the Amsterdam Scheepvaarts Museum, which is in the second state. A copy in the Royal Geographical Society, London, does not have the text, and is of the second state. A copy which has been cut down to just the two large hemispheres, and which therefore lacks the text, the eight subsidiary marginal maps and astronomical figures, and the decorative engraving, is in the giant Charles II Atlas in the British Museum. A similar cut-down pair of hemispheres (of the second state) is, or was, in a similar big volume in Berlin - it also is of august provenance, being a volume presented by Johann Mauritius of Nassau-Siegen to the Elector Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, c. 1661. The BM volume was a present from the merchants of Amsterdam to the exiled King Charles II during Commonwealth days.


The map is dominated by the two world-hemispheres ( 1440 mm . diameter); in the upper corners are the northern and southern celestial hemispheres; upper center, a representation of the Copernican world-system. In the lower corners are displayed the northern and southern polar regions, the latter a blank except for the southern tip of South America. This abandonment of the "Terra Australis Incognita" represents a remarkable advance in geographical knowledge. In the lower center is a map of the world as it was known in Europe in the year 1490, just before the era of oceanic voyaging, showing the Mediterranean world of the ancients plus the discoveries of the African shores southwards and the Atlantic islands, made in the late Middle Ages. This is flanked by representations of the Ptolemaic and Tychonian world systems. Above the "1490" map is the dedication to Gaspar de Brancamonte y Guzman, Count of Peñaranda, Spanish Ambassador to the peace conference of Muenster in Westphalia. Wieder infers from the wording of this dedication that the map was issued in 1648, the year of the peace treaty of Westphalia. In the lower corners are figures of a salamander, a whale, a mole, and an eagle, symbolizing the four elements. The text below the map is, according to Wieder, "a simple and useful explanation of the fundamentals of geography as it was understood in those days." It is in Latin and French.



The map is important not only for its extraordinary size and beauty, but as a first recording of important geographical discoveries. Abel Jansz Tasman, the great Dutch navigator, carried out in 1642-1644 two voyages of exploration which are among the most notable ever made. Another notable Dutch explorer whose discoveries first appear on this map is Maerten Gerritsz Vries.



In 1920, Mr. Edward Heawood made a detailed comparison of the Royal Geographical Society and the British Museum examples of the map. He discovered that the portion depicting China existed in two states. While the differences in detail are very numerous, the first issue may be recognized at a glance by the fact that the Shantung Peninsula is entirely absent. The second state must have appeared years later than the first; while the first came out probably in 1648, the second is based upon the cartography of the Jesuit M. Martini, who returned to Europe from China only in 1654, and whose general geography of China was published by Blaeu only in 1659. The second issue is therefore at least 6-10 years after the first, and perhaps even later.



Gli emisferi celesti

Sono in proiezione stereografica ed in visione convessa, si estendono dai poli eclittici fino all’eclittica che fa da circonferenza. In entrambe le mappe sono riprodotte, sopra l’eclittica, le costellazioni zodiacali. Misurano 35 cm di diametro. La tavola è stata prodotta nel 1648 e le stelle vi sono posizionate per il 1600.

Il reticolo di riferimento principale è quello eclittico e comprende i Poli, l’Eclittica, graduata al passo di un grado di longitudine i cui gradi sono numerati di 10 in 10; la numerazione si ripete ogni 30 gradi in corrispondenza del relativo raggio di longitudine.

Il reticolo equatoriale è composto dai poli e dai circoli polari (Artico ed Antartico) dai cerchi dei Tropici (del Cancro e del Capricorno), dalle linee dei Coluri e dalle rispettive frazioni del circolo equatoriale.

Oltre alle costellazioni tolemaiche sono rappresentate quelle di Antinous, Caput Medusae e di Coma Berenices per l’emisfero boreale e per l’emisfero australe quelle di El Crusero, Colomba Noe e tutte le costellazioni introdotte nell’Uranometria del Bayer nel 1603 e scoperte nell’ultima parte del cinquecento dai navigatori Keyser ed Houtman, di queste costellazioni manca però quella del Triangulum Australe. 

Le costellazioni sono denominate in latino e per le stelle principali viene riportato il nome proprio.