25.07.2014
The vertical waterway is the Grand Canal built by Kublai from Manji to Cambulac; below are the 7548 islands, rich in all manner of spicery, placed by Marco in the Sea of Chin. Yule points out that Kao-li was the name given for Korea, and he therefore considers that the island Cresques depicts here represents confused notions about both the Korean peninsula and Japan; otherwise there is no obvious graphic reference or hint of Zipangu [Japan]. The first is difficult to explain; to make up for it the cartographer has inserted a great island of Jana [Java], which however was probably intended for Sumatra. The notion that there were Christian rulers east of the Islamic world stems largely from the legend of Prester John; also important, however, were the real Christian minorities in India and the fact that the tomb of Saint Thomas was thought to be in Mailapore, a suburb of Madras, the Mirapore of the map. Elsewhere, however, the weight of received opinion is still felt, as, for example, in the various islands with fabulous names; they cannot represent the Madeiran group, as these islands were discovered only in 1418-1419.
This contrasts strongly with the people of the islands farther east who are described as savages living naked, eating raw fish, and drinking sea water.
Altogether, as mentioned above, we are told there are 7,548 islands in the Indian Ocean; they are rich in gold, silver, spices, and precious stones, so much so that “great ships of many different nations” trade in their waters.


In the Gulf, the island of Ormis [Hormuz] is shown, opposite the former settlement of the same name on the mainland. Nor can they be the Azores, which are first mentioned in 1427, or the Cape Verde Islands discovered only in 1455-1456. Abraham Cresques, a Jew of Palma on the island of Majorca, for many years was 'master of mappaemundi and compasses', i.e.
Some of the islands off Quinsay may stand for the Chusan archipelago, and further to the south is the large island of Caynam, [Hainan]. Thanks to their notorious capacity to travel long distances without water, they completely transformed African trade, opening sub-Saharan areas to Islam. There Cresques placed some of the fabulous and monstrous races legendary in classical antiquity and the Middle Ages: “On this island are people who are very different from the rest of mankind.
The island of Scotra, an important stage on the trade route from Aden to India, is misplaced to the east, and appears to occupy the approximate position of the Kuria Muria Islands.


The heathens believe that Paradise is situated there, because the islands have such a temperate climate and such a great fertility of the soil. For this reason the heathens of India believe that their souls are transported to these islands after death, where they live for ever on the scent of these fruits. With meticulous care the islands in the region of the portolan chart section are displayed, they are painted in color, some of them like Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica are shown in gold. Also its treatment of the Atlantic islands: the Azores, Canary, and Madeira groups, is more complete than any representation of earlier times.



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