Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Library News: Magnificent Map Presented to the Library

If you've visited the Poetry Center or Paul's Copy Center office on the Library's 3rd floor recently, perhaps you have seen the large, magnificent map that now resides on the wall opposite the group study tables on 3. If not, please do come by and take a look. It is a fascinating piece of cartographic history!

It is a centuries-old map of Africa. And here are a few details:

Nova Africae Geographica Et Hydrographica Descriptio
Blaeu-Jaillot Wall Map of Africa [Paris, 1669]

46 ¼ x 66 inches; 16 sheets (including text & title) joined & mounted on new linen, encased in a fine Dutch-style archival frame.

This Blaeu-Jaillot map is very rare and exceptionally well-preserved. It stands as the visually richest map of Africa produced during the Golden Age of Mapmaking. It is the first edition of the Paris plates. Alexis-Hubert Jaillot faithfully re-engraved Willem Blaeu’s map of 1608 capturing all the verve and visual drama of its Dutch model, but rendering it more accessible and readable by providing the text panels in both French and Latin and by translating place names into French. Particularly striking are the illustrations of ships engaged in battle or confronting sea monsters or monstrous seas. Notable is the variation in the conventional Neptune depiction of the sea-god, as well as the cartouche with a European woman flanked by two African women, and a border displaying contemporary depictions of costumes and centers of trade. The interior of the image of Africa teems with images of wildlife of all kinds.

This is an amazing historical document, and it is the very generous gift of Dr. Gerald Rizzo, the founder of the AFRITERRA Foundation, which is a a non-profit cartographic library and archive assembling and preserving the original rare maps of Africa.

For more on the Afriterra Foundation and and the Afriterra Collection, visit their website, where you will find many other digitized maps of Africa for armchair exploration!

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