Mapa mondi (Catalan Atlas of 1375), Majorcan cartographic school, and 14th century Asia
Keywords: Mappæ mundi, Majorcan cartographic school, Catalan Atlas 1375, Medieval Asia, Medieval China
Abstract. This paper deals with the Mapa mondi drawn and written in about 1375. It is my starting study about this important map of the medieval period in the Catalan language and the finest work to come from the Majorcan cartographic school of the fourteenth century. The aim of this paper is to give a general overview of the publication with some details on descriptions of the portion of Asia, and in more details as regards China. This map is known also as the Catalan Atlas, because it is composed of several tables sketching out the world known at that time, from the Atlantic Coast of Europe to the Pacific Coast of East Asia. The main sources for the eastern parts of the world were travelogues of Marco Polo, John Mandeville, and Odoric of Pordenone. The presumable author of the Catalan Atlas, Cresques Abra-ham (1325–1387), a Jewish cartographer from Palma, was “master of mappæ mundi and compasses” to Peter IV (III), the King of Aragon. He worked on the atlas with his son Jehudà, who after the Aragonese persecutions of 1391, converted to Christianity. The atlas contained the latest information on Africa, Asia, and China and was considered to be the most complete picture of geographical knowledge as it stood in the later Middle Ages. The translations of original texts and interpretations, based on facsimiles of original source and on secondary sources until 2016, will be a part of this paper.