De Jode's rare map of Arabia
By JODE, Cornelius de , 1593

Secundae Partis Asiae.

Arabia Asia
  • Author: JODE, Cornelius de
  • Publication place: [Antwerp
  • Publication date: 1593].
  • Physical description: Double page engraved map.
  • Dimensions: 330 by 508mm. (13 by 20 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 13056


De Jode’s rare map of Arabia, reduced from Giacomo Gastaldi’s seminal work, the first modern map of the Arabian Peninsula.

Gastaldi revitalised European mapping of the Middle East, producing a two sheet wall map of Arabia and the Indian Ocean and creating a series of maps of the region for his 1548 edition of Ptolemy. Gastaldi used new sources to give a more accurate picture of the area, and his cartography was used as the basis for maps by Abraham Ortelius, Cornelius de Jode and Gerard Mercator in their respective atlases. Although not a slavish copy, de Jode’s map is by far the closest in style and content to the one published by Gastaldi in 1561.

Despite Gastaldi’s updated sources, parts of the map are still guesswork. De Jode has retained Gastaldi’s entirely fictional lake, “Stag Lago”, and the title cartouche mentions the kingdom of Prester John, a mythical Christian king.

The map appeared in the second edition of the de Jodes’ atlas ‘Speculum orbis terrae’. The ‘Speculum’ was first published in 1578 by Gerard de Jode (1509-1591) with text by Daniel Cellarius. It was designed to compete with Abraham Ortelius’ atlas, ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum’, which had been published eight years earlier. Ortelius used his influence to disrupt de Jode’s application for a royal privilege. By the time this was finally granted, seven years after the publication of the ‘Theatrum’, Ortelius’ work had become so popular that de Jode’s atlas did not sell well, despite the accuracy and clarity of his maps.

His son Cornelis (1558-1600) continued his father’s publishing business after studying at Douai. He produced an enlarged edition of the ‘Speculum’ in 1593, which Gerard had been planning before his death. Either Cornelis or Gerard was the first person to make a globe following the geography of Mercator in the southern hemisphere; no copies of it survive to provide evidence.

Although sales of de Jode’s work were less than ideal, the atlas was evidently held in high regard, with several contemporaries citing its importance alongside the atlases of Mercator and Ortelius. Few examples of either edition of the ‘Speculum’ have survived, making the maps within a rarity.


  1. Van der Krogt 8180:32.