The Library of New South Wales recently purchased an intriguing 16th-century map.
Asia secunda pars terrae in forma Pegasir was designed and printed by the German Protestant theologian, Heinrich Bünting (1545-1606). The map imagines the Asian continent in the shape of the mythical winged horse, Pegasus. Bünting took great liberties with the layout of Asia. Turkey and Armenia appear at the head of Pegasus in this map, while Scythia and Tartary form its wings. Its forelegs are Arabia and its hind legs are India and the Malay Peninsula.
The map was printed in Bünting’s 1581 book, Itinerarium Sacrae Scripturae (Travels according to the Scriptures). Itinerarium featured nine beautiful woodcut maps. Six of these maps were relatively conventional maps of the Holy Land. The other three were figurative maps, including that of Asia as Pegasus. The other two figurative maps depicted the world as a clover leaf and Europe as a woman.
Asia secunda pars terrae in forma Pegasir is an interesting addition to our vast collection of maps showing the development of European understanding of the mysterious continent of Asia.
Acting Head, Maps Section.