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Maritime Map of the Mediterranean

Author Mecià de Viladestes Spanish

Not on view

Ancient Mali’s leader Mansa Musa (reigned ca. 1312–37) became renowned internationally following his lavish 1324 pilgrimage to Mecca, or hajj. He was subsequently portrayed on the most advanced maps of the day produced by the Majorcan cartographic school. Such highly detailed nautical charts, which incorporated firsthand information from mariners and merchants, remain impressively accurate even by contemporary standards. Mecià de Viladestes applied methods for plotting vast maritime expanses to the desert landscape. Among the select protagonists featured is Mansa Musa, shown enthroned in the lower left, wearing a crown and holding both a scepter and a nugget of gold.

Maritime Map of the Mediterranean, Mecià de Viladestes (active Majorca early 15th century), Manuscript on vellum

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Bibliothèque Nationale de France