De Jode’s rare map of eastern Asia

By DE JODE, Cornelis, 1593 

China Regnum

Asia China
  • Author: DE JODE, Cornelis
  • Publication place: Antwerp
  • Publisher: Collectore Cornelio de Iudeis
  • Publication date: 1593
  • Physical description: Double-page engraved map with hand colour.
  • Dimensions: 365 by 450mm (14.25 by 17.75 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 12908


A superb example of de Jode’s map of eastern Asia, showing Japan, China and Korea, produced especially for the 1593 edition of the Speculum’.

The map is based upon the work of the Portuguese cartographer Luiz Jorge de Barbuda, whose map of China also appeared in the work of de Jode’s competitor, Abraham Ortelius, in 1584. The circular map is framed by elaborate strap-work and three vignettes of Chinese life, calculated to appeal to European interest. At the upper left corner is a fisherman working with the aid of a cormorant, a practice that continues in rural China; at the upper right there is a houseboat with a pen attached to the side. The lower right vignette is of a cart with a sail attached, the Chinese windcarts that fascinated European observers. The final image is of India, showing two people in Eastern dress worshipping a triple-headed god.

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 8410:32.
    • Koeman, C and van der Krogt, Pieter (2000–2010). Koeman’s Atlantes Neerlandici. MS’t Goy-Houten: HES & De Graaf Publishers. 9 vols.

Image gallery