Tartaria Sive Magni Chami Imperivm

by Nathan Hamm on 1/16/2006 · 3 comments

Click the image or here for a 1780×1396 version of the map.

I recently bought the above print of Willem Janszoon Blaeu’s 1635 map of Tartary. As far as I can tell, this is now the best electronic version of the map you’ll find easily online. (Though if anyone is in Venice and wouldn’t mind popping over to library hosting a large TIFF of the map, it’d be much appreciated. Their version has some borders that mine doesn’t.)

I have altogether too much fun looking at modern maps, so these old maps I occasionally pick up (there’s a mid-19th century map that has an independent state of Turkestan at a store at Pike Place Market that I mean to pick up at some point as a treat to myself) are the cartographical equivalent of heroin.

A few things I find particularly interesting about the map are that the Mongols appear to be placed at the ends of the earth in the northeast corner of the map, that the northern ocean is the “Tartar Ocean,” and that Tashkent is part of the Ob drainage. Interestingly, Tashkent itself looks to be placed on a river called the “Sur” while there is an entirely different “Iaxartes” on the map. Also, the demon-looking things that appear in the Lop Desert are kind of neat. The complete text that is cut off in the more detailed image below reads:

in deserto Lop et Belgian homines miris illusionibus et diabolico screatu seduci creduator

I’ve included a few detail shots of the map in the extended entry. You can access them in all different sizes through here.

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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Peter January 16, 2006 at 7:55 am

The Scythians are responsible for the odd nomenclature of the Arctic ocean.


Their Northern provenance led early geographers to place their origin in what would now be Northern Russia, which may not have been that far off the mark.

Tom2 January 21, 2006 at 1:36 am

fabulous map – with such excellent detail of especially the mountain ranges. Makes me recall how much I loved looking at maps when I was younger – anxiously awaiting the next map enclosed in a National Geographic, for example. Thanks! Tom

JB April 4, 2006 at 3:28 pm

I have an original of this map from 1635. I am trying to sell it, but do not know it’s worth.

JB 208.860.1333

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