Antique map of Asien with borders by Willem J. Blaeu. Published 1641 in Amsterdam.

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Reference 12856

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One of the most beautiful maps of Asia of the 17th century.

Willem Blaeu's map of Asia is one of the most beautiful maps of the continent published during the 17th century. It features ten pairs of figures representing various Asian cultures and highlights nine cities, showcasing the lucrative trade opportunities for Europeans.

Blaeu's map, influenced by Dutch East India Company charts, is notably up-to-date for its time. However, some details may seem surprising to modern viewers. Korea is portrayed as an almost isolated island, and Japan appears in a horizontal style typical of the period. Some of the coastlines are still incomplete and inaccurate, especially in Borneo and Southeast Asia.

The map shows the Fretium Anian, or the Strait of Anian, representing the hoped-for Northwest Passage between North America and Asia. The term Anian originates from Marco Polo's travels, but its location was inaccurately placed on the northwest coast of North America. This representation persisted until the mid-18th century.

Embellishments abound, depicting ships in battle, a whale being fired upon, and a merman blowing a conch shell. On land, a lion oversees the scene from eastern Africa, the Great Wall of China is detailed, and a camel accompanies it. A purposeful elephant is near Lake Chismay, considered the Ganges source. The map's title cartouche, placed in Europe, emphasizes its newly delineated nature.

The decorative style extends to pairs of figures bordering the map, representing diverse Asian cultures. Major trade centers like Kandy, Calcutta, Goa, Damascus and Macao are highlighted, emphasizing the vital trade routes connecting Europe to Asia for spices, porcelain, silks, and other luxury goods.

The map comes from the German edition of the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum by Joan and Cornelis Blaeu, published in Amsterdam in 1641/42, German text on verso.


CartographerWillem Janszoon Blaeu
TitleAsia noviter delineata
Publisher, YearAmsterdam, 1641-42
Plate Size41.1 x 55.5 cm (16.2 x 21.9 inches)
Sheet Size49.2 x 58.0 cm (19.4 x 22.8 inches)
ReferenceVan der Krogt, P.: Koeman's Atlantes Neerlandici, 8000:2.


Some browning to margins, centerfold backed at bottom, sheet margins narrowly backed due to former framing. Very good condition with beautiful old coloring.


Willem Janszoon Blaeu was born 1571 in Alkmaar. He was trained from 1594 to 1596 by the famous danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. 1599 he went to Amsterdam and founded a business as globe maker. Later he started producing map and sea charts, including his first world map in 1605. In 1633 he was appointed Hydrographer for the Dutch East India Company (VOC). His most famous work was the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum sive Atlas Novus of 1635, which was published until 1655 in total six volumes. After Blaeu's death in 1638 his sons Joan and Cornelis continued the business and finished the Atlas Novus and started an even larger work, the Atlas Maior, which reached 12 volumes. In 1672 a fire destroyed the printing house and most of the printing plates. Joan Blaeu died the following year, leaving the business to his three sons Willem (1635-1701), Pieter (1637-1706) and Joan II (1650-1712). While the business began to decline in the hands of his sons, the dominance of the Blaeu publishing house finally ended in 1703 when the V.O.C. stopped publishing maps bearing the Blaeu family name. Some of the surviving plates were bought by F. de Wit and Schenk & Valk.

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Willem Janszoon Blaeu: Asia noviter delineata.
Antique map of Asien with borders by Willem J. Blaeu. Published 1641 in Amsterdam.

Asian Continent - Blaeu, Willem Janszoon - Asia noviter delineata

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