Indiae Orientalis Insularumque Adiacientium Typus

Abraham Ortelius (*1527 - 1598)
Antique map of Southeast Asia. Printed in Antwerp by Gielis van Diest in 1570.

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Reference 11762



Rare first edition, first state of Ortelius' striking map of Southeast Asia.

Rare and important first edition of the beautiful Southeast Asia map of Abraham Ortelius. From the first 'modern' atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum of 1570, published by Gielis Coppens van Diest in Antwerp. According to Marcel van den Broecken, only 225 copies of this first edition were printed. It remains as one of Abraham Ortelius' best-known maps.

The mapping of Southeast Asia has been difficult for centuries. Thus, Sumatra and Java are heavily oversized, the Philippines are incomplete and still without the Island of Luzon. The cartographic information is largely based on Mercator's world map of 1569, but it contains many improvements over previous maps. Ortelius identified the Pearl River correctly in southern China, while Mercator believed Sumatra is Ptolemy's Taprobana, and concluded the Pearl River was the Ganges River. The important spice islands (Moluccas) are more accurately positioned against the former Italian maps of Gastaldi, Forlani and Ramusio. The shape of Halmahera (formerly Gilolo) was also corrected by Ortelius. For the first time several islands called Cainam appeared west of New Guinea, which is an early rendering of Irian Jaya. Ortelius questions in the text within New Guinea, whether it is a part of the southern continent or an island.

Thomas Suarez about this map:

The Asiae Nova Descriptio and Indiae Orientalis are the first published works to definitely map Formosa, and to identify it by that name (Fermosa). For the Ryukyu chain itself, Ortelius uses the terms Lequiho and Lequio, forms of Liu-ch'iu....

The Indiae Orientalis' depiction of two mermaids with mirrors may hark back to the old lore regarding an 'island of women' who conceived by beholding their own image- one missionary report actually located an amazonian island to the south of the Marianas, near Ortelius' two figures...

Ortelius accepted Mercator's belief in an imposing southern continent and in the theory that Marco Polo reached its shores. The Indiae Orientalis extends far enough south to depict the northernmost promontory of Terra Australis protruding below Java, with the Polian kingdom of Beach (a corruption of Lucach occupying its shores...

The map is decorated with a large title cartouche, the Portuguese coat of arms and two sailing ships, of which one is attacked by two whales. The two mermaids with mirrors are taken from the splendid map of America of Diego Gutiérrez from 1562.

A very good, early and strong impression. Especially because the map is uncoloured, the beauty of the engraving is clearly visible.


CartographerAbraham Ortelius
TitleIndiae Orientalis Insularumque Adiacientium Typus
Publisher, YearGielis van Diest, Antwerp, 1570
Plate Size34.7 x 49.6 cm (13.7 x 19.5 inches)
Sheet Size38.4 x 52.4 cm (15.1 x 20.6 inches)
ReferenceVan den Broecke, M.: Ortelius Atlas Maps, No. 166.1; Van der Krogt, P.: Koeman's Atlantes Neerlandici, 8400:31:001; Suarez, T.: Early Mapping of Southeast Asia, pp. 164-69, fig. 86.


Two small brown spots. Very good conditions.


Abraham Ortelius was born 1527 in Antwerp. He studied mathematics, Greek and Latin and travelled a lot across Europe. He established a business in dealing with books and drawing maps. His first remarkable map was a 8 sheet world map in the year 1564, but only three copies have survived. In 1570 he issued the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first modern Atlas with uniformly sized maps in a systematic collection. The term Atlas was not used until Mercator introduced it 20 years later. Most of the maps in Theatrum have been engraved by Frans Hogenberg. At the time of publication, the atlas was the most expensive book ever printed. Nevertheless it was a big success and around 7000 copies have been printed until 1612 in many editions and six different languages. Beside the Theatrum, Ortelius compiled a series of historical maps and published it in the Parergon Theatri which was bound with the Theatrum from 1579 onwards or published separately.

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Abraham Ortelius: Indiae Orientalis Insularumque Adiacientium Typus.
Antique map of Southeast Asia. Printed in Antwerp by Gielis van Diest in 1570.

Southeast Asia - Ortelius, Abraham - Indiae Orientalis Insularumque...

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