World Map

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Engraved cordiform world map printed on 10 joined sheets with Turkish text.

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Engraved cordiform world map printed on 10 joined sheets with Turkish text. The so-called Hajji Ahmed World Map was considered by museum founder, Dallas Pratt to be the pride of his collection. As such, Pratt hung the large framed map in the canopy of his four-poster bed. There is much speculation about the map’s genesis. It has been suggested that the map’s author was a Tunisian enslaved by Venetians, who bought his freedom by engraving the map on six blocks of pear wood. It has also been argued that the map was prepared for the Ottoman market, since the text is in Turkish. When relations between the Venetian Republic and the Ottomans worsened, the wooden blocks - being of potential benefit to the Turks - were sequestered in the Doge’s secret archives. They were rediscovered in 1795, and twenty-four copies were then printed; only about nine or ten of these are thought to have survived.

The Hajji Ahmed World Map impresses not only for its rarity but for its size. The cartography is based (with some additions) on a cordiform woodcut map of 1534 created by the French cartographer and mathematician Oronce Finé for the French king, François I. The imposing Arabic script above the map opens with the words ‘Whoever wishes to know the true shape of the world, their minds shall be filled with light and their breast with beauty.’ The text summarises the geographical knowledge of the time; for instance, Peru is described as a rich kingdom, and Mexico as being abundant in gold and silver. Matters of navigation and commerce are discussed, and locations of trading destinations, such as Malacca, are noted. The borders are embellished with floral arabesques, while below is an armillary sphere and two celestial charts. All these elements add to the impression of great artistry on the part of the engraver, whoever he may have been.

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» maps (documents)


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» laid paper


» wood engraving (process)

Production place

» Venice, Italy


» Dallas Pratt Collection of Historical Maps



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