Portolan chart

The Selden Map of China

This Treasure is paired with: The Selden Map of China (Maps of Asia)

  • later 16th century
  • Italy[?]
  • Map

Portolan charts focus on coastlines, but the top half of this map provides inland locations for curiosities, including elephants, diamonds, and enormous snakes. It is probably too decorative to have been used on a ship, and perhaps adorned a rich private library. The lower half shows the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal, and South China Sea, with the sixteen points of the compass represented by clusters of lines known as rhumb lines.