This map was made around the year 1450. It is one of the most precious and well known works preserved in the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice. The author of the map was the Camaldulian monk Mauro, who lived a long and productive life in the monastery on the Island of San Michele in Venice. The map represents an important document of the geographic discoveries achieved through the explorers’ journeys.
Fra Mauro Map and the Departure from Medieval Mapping
This large planisphere is painted on parchment and mounted on wooden support. Unusual for medieval European maps, Fra Mauro map is oriented with South at the top. It is full of details and inscriptions.
The coasts appear in a style that recalls that of the nautical charts. Compass roses are not drawn, however, and the effect is that of a mappamundi, not much of a nautical chart.
Fra Mauro took account of Ptolemy’s geography along with travelers’s descriptions regarding the great extent of the East. Departing from medieval custom, Fra Mauro moved Jerusalem from the world’s center to its geographical position in the Eurasian continent.
Detailed Representations of the Continents: The Cases of Africa and Asia
The map is filled with inscriptions and labels that provide information about various places of the world as they were known before the discovery of America. The representation of Africa is especially important because it is based on drawings and written sources to which Fra Mauro had exclusive access.
Fra Mauro was aware of the possibility of circumnavigate the African continent, a fact not known until that time because the Portuguese were experimenting the circumnavigation while Fra Mauro was producing this map. Also of extreme interest is the drawing of Asia, which was made on the base of the reports of Marco Polo and Nicolò de Conti.
We have 3 facsimiles of the manuscript "Fra Mauro Map":
- Fra Mauro Map - Facsimile Finder edition facsimile edition published by Imago, 2016
- Mappamondo di Fra Mauro facsimile edition published by Editalia, 2015
- Mappamondo di Fra Mauro facsimile edition published by Imago, 2015