Cosmographia (1572)

Lower Library F.17.16

Sebastian Munster was a cartographer, cosmographer and Hebrew scholar. This volume, part of the Branthwaite bequest of 1619, is a Latin translation of the earliest German description of the world, containing numerous woodcut maps, and illustrations of its wonders.

The contents show an interesting juxtaposition of the fantastic (God creating the world); and the scientific (the world with its poles and lines of longitude).There are descriptions of every corner of the globe, its lands and inhabitants, as known or believed at that time, with images of elephants from India, a one-eyed man of Africa and a somewhat angular depiction of the Egyptian pyramids.

A number of the creatures in this volume have surely been drawn from verbal description, rather than actual experience; see the double page woodcut of the wonders of the sea! In all this is a feast for the eyes, with its realistic, and sometimes fantastic images.

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