The Cantino Planisphere

May 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Cantino Planisphere is a world map compiled by Portuguese explorers and cartographers detailing discoveries made and routes used in the late 15th and early 16th century. An Italian horse trader in Lisbon, Alberto Cantino, working secretly as an agent of the Duke of Ferrara, had a copy of the map made and smuggled out of Portugal in 1502, when such maps were heavily guarded state secrets. Among its many details is a depiction of the West coast of India, including Goa, Calicut and Cochin.

In 1504, in response to the loss of such a valuable map, Manuel I of Portugal passed a law instituting state censorship of all private map and globe production, prohibiting any depiction of coast beyond West Africa.
The map passed through various hands, was cut into pieces, reassembled as a room divider, and used in a butcher shop before eventually finding its way to the Biblioteca Estense in Modena.

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