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John Speed: The Kingdome of Persia

Map: tempMid
Cartographer: John Speed
Title: The Kingdome of Persia
Date: 1627
Published: London
Width: 20 inches / 51 cm
Height: 15 inches / 39 cm
Map ref: MEAST4374
Exquisite map of Persia (Iran) with a decorative border featuring bird's eye views of four cities, as well as eight costumed figures in local dress. Published in the first edition (1627) of the first world atlas by an Englishman, John Speed's A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World.

To keep his atlas of the world current, Speed included this map of Persia in his “Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World” as the other significant power in the Middle East in the 17th century. The Empire of Persia is shown as being in possession of modern Afghanistan, Beluchistan and Pakistan to the Western bank of the Ganges in the East and part of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Iraq in the West. This was a vast area and there were possible political undercurrents as it was in the interest of Western European powers to show that the Ottoman Empire had a viable rival in the region to temper its aggressive expansionist tendencies, which were still very active during this period.

In the interests of consistency, Speed also published this map in the Dutch tradition of a “figure map” with illustrated borders. Ultimately, this version became the only “figure map” of Persia ever printed. Again traditionally, the borders on the left and right illustrate the inhabitants of Persia including noblemen, countrymen, citizens and peculiarly also a Turk and his wife, possibly indicating the amount of trade prevalent throughout the two regional powers. The upper borders shows the city of Ormuz or Hormuz on an island in the Persian Gulf, which controlled that the entrance to that waterway and which would have been the most important city to European mariners, Sfaha or Isfahan, the capital of Persia at this time, Tarvis or Tabriz a major settlement in modern Azerbaijan and one of the former capitals of Persia and Gilan, which lies on the site of Tehran.

Often cited as one of the most beautiful maps of Persia, it was also the first English atlas map of the country and on the reverse, shows a highly interesting description of the country contemporary to the 17th century. The name of the engraver, Abraham Goos, is marked on the lower left centre.

English descriptive text on the verso (image available on request. Strong impression. [MEAST4374]