M-12239: (Image: 14 5/8 x 17'') ''PRESBITERI JOHANNIS, SIVE, ABISSINORUM IMPERII DESCRIPTIO.'' Antwerp: Abraham Ortelius, c. 1588. Fine engraved map. Rich, skillful hand-coloring. Verso text: Spanish. Two filled worm-holes in margins - not into map.
This handsome map is an exceptionally fine example of elaborate 16th century Dutch cartography - complete with elephants roaming the land, sea monsters & a boat firing cannon at sea. Published by ABRAHAM ORTELIUS - the father of modern cartography. His strong sense of composition and design produced maps not only historically important, but aesthetically pleasing - with fascinating design, elegant lettering and elaborate cartouches - all in the finest Renaissance tradition!!
Prester John was believed to exist in the area of present-day Ethiopia. His origin is not known for certain though his legend appeared in the 1100's & lodged itself in the popular imagination of Europeans for several centuries. Prester John was believed to be a Christian conqueror of enormous power & splendor ruling over vast dominions in the Far East. His story faded but his name remained firmly rooted & by the 14th century the royal presbyter was assigned a locus in Ethiopia. When Vasco de Gama went on his voyage from Mozambique northwards he heard of ''Preste Johan'' as reigning in the interior.