Cathay and Zipanga
This fourth plate describes Cathay and Japan. The rivers and mountains of Cathay are portrayed here as they were when mapped by Marco Polo at the end of the 13th century. Neither Columbus nor Vespucci reached this part of the globe and Waldseemuller relied on Ptolemy's map for information to describe these parts.
The intrepid explorers were attempting to reach Cathay for the riches and spices they were promised according to legend. Marco Polo had described an exotic culture with cities of rare qualities and lots of gold.
When Columbus arrived in Hispaniola in 1492, he believed he was coming up on the coast of India, hence the name Indians arrived to the Americas.
The Latin legend states:
In describing the general appearance of the world, it has seemed best to put down the discoveries of the ancients, and to add what has since been discovered by the moderns, for instance, the land of Cathay, so that those who are interested in such matters and wish to find out various things, may gain their wishes and be grateful to us for our labor, when they see nearly everything that has been discovered here and there, or recently explored, carefully and clearly brought together, so as to be seen at a glance.
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