Map of Asia from the Atlas Catalan, likely by Cresque Abraham, c. 1375. Currently in the collections of the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. Image taken from ARTstor.
“In the late fourteenth century, Barcelona was highly regarded as a center of mapmaking. The Atlas Catalan, likely produced by a Jewish cartographer from Mallorca [a Balearic island in the Mediterranean Sea] named Cresque Abraham, is a traditional mappa mundi [‘map of the world’], with Jerusalem in its center. The twelve-paneled map unfolds like a screen, providing information about various locations, including their geographical placement as well as their historical and mythological significance. The atlas also delineates portolan charts or sailing directions. In 1381, Pere IV of Aragon gave the work to an envoy of Charles V of France. Although the map indicates navigational directions, it was not intended for daily use. On the contrary, the atlas served as a luxurious collector’s item housed in a royal library. The section of the map displayed here represents Southeast Asia and China. Although the accuracy of the map wanes as one leaves the Mediterranean basin, it is one of the first maps to indicate the international travels of Marco Polo.” (Snyder, Art of the Middle Ages, 414)