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85310 Mediteranska 8, Budva, Dalmatia (Montenegro)
85310 Mediteranska 8, Budva, Dalmatia (Montenegro)

РГАДА. Ф.192, оп. 1, д. №4b, 254 листа: THEATRUM ORBIS TERRARUM Sive ATLAS NOVVS in quo TABVLAE et DESCRIPTIONES omnium Regionum, Editae a Guiljel: et Ioanne Blaeu. – Ams. 1645. ЛЛ. 7об-8, фрагмент. На этой карте середины XVII века воспроизводится самый ранний картографический образ Северо-западной Азии – как лакуны за пределами Европы. Лакуна закрывается рисунком и картушем.

Some of the first information about the southwestern part of present-day Siberia and the West Siberian Plain available to Europeans appears on the Catalan Atlas of 1375 [1] and likely originates from Arabic and Persian sources. However, European cartography of the 14th-15th centuries generally tended to reproduce ancient geographical images, according to which almost all of the little-known part of northern Asia west of the Black Sea was referred to as Scythia. It cannot be said that new information was not taken into account – an innovation relative to ancient models was the representation of Tartaria, associated at least with the texts of Plano Carpini and Marco Polo. However, even these eyewitness accounts did not have very high authority compared to the “great ancients”. And in general, new data was fragmented, unsystematic, and of little authority. Geographers and cartographers who created original works, rather than copying data from Claudius Ptolemy or Strabo, could allow themselves to combine Scythia and Tartaria in a certain proportion, as happened on Waldseemüller’s map of 1507, but otherwise, even data known to Europeans about the geography of Eastern Europe was often ignored.

The second cartographic discovery of Siberia is already associated with data on the territories of the Muscovite Tsardom and sources on the geography of these distant outskirts of Europe. In the 1520s, a map was printed illustrating the work of Paolo Giovio of Novocomo, and compiled (according to some assumptions by cartographer Battista Agnese) based on data from the Muscovite ambassador, a Novgorodian Dmitry Gerasimov, which provided new information about Muscovy. It was the first to show Permia Regio – a territory (region) that would become the traditional cartographic neighbor of the territories of interest to us for the next two centuries. In the 1540-60s, three testimonies about Muscovy and adjacent lands, including Northwestern Asia, appeared in Europe at once. These were Anthonius Wied’s map, based on testimonies and sources from a native of Muscovy or Lithuania, the map and notes of imperial envoy Sigismund von Herberstein, and the “Description…” and map by British ambassador to Moscow Anthony Jenkinson. Jenkinson’s map compiled data from Wied’s and Herberstein’s maps, but was highly authoritative due to the author’s status as an eyewitness. However, the preceding works quite likely included data from Giovio’s map as well.

Ibid, лл.7об-8: полный разворот

This reproduction of predecessors’ data with possible editing, additions, and different visualization was the main method of transmitting geographical information about regions of the world known to Europeans “second and third-hand.” It is precisely for remote territories, about which information was fragmented, incomplete, and unverifiable, that stable, even conservative, cartographic images were most characteristic, repeating from decade to decade by different authors.

An additional factor in the “conservation” of data was the non-mass, almost artistic nature of early modern European cartography. There were possibly fewer cartographers than artists; the compilation and production of maps quickly turned into a family business, passed down through inheritance, with the most successful maps being reproduced multiple times with minimal changes or none at all.

In consolidating and transmitting data from the first half to mid-16th century about Northwest Asia, two cartographers of Flemish origin played a special role: Abraham Wortels and Geert De Kremer, better known by their Latinized names – Ortelius and Mercator. Colleagues and countrymen with similar religious sympathies, they had access to the achievements of the most advanced Spanish cartographic tradition of the time and laid the foundation for a new one – the Flemish-Dutch tradition. The main form of this tradition became the atlas. Neither Ortelius nor Mercator can be considered the inventors of the atlas, but it was the latter who came up with the name “atlas” for a collection of maps, and both cartographers made the new format popular and widespread [2].

It was in Ortelius’s work of 1570 (Theatrum Orbis Terrarum) that an impression of the aforementioned Jenkinson’s map appeared, along with several other maps of Asia and Europe, aligned with data from the 1540-60s. The first cartographic image of Northwest Asia was quite current and detailed for that time: regional toponyms (Tumen, Permia, Ioughoria, Condora, Obdora) can be interpreted by modern researchers quite unambiguously and correlated with political and tribal entities known to us. The same can be said about the city of Siber and the river Oba.

Over the next hundred years – up until the famous twelve-volume Blaeu atlas – this image did not fundamentally change. New urban and regional toponyms appeared, associated with new portions of information, and we can speak of derivative variations, but the structure of the cartographic image itself, its rootedness in the data of the mid-16th century, did not change.

That is, due to the limited new information about the region, the cartographic image of Northwest Asia became a commonplace and standard of geographical knowledge, influencing maps and atlases of all subsequent Flemish-Dutch tradition and even cartographic traditions of other countries.

By the turn of the 16-17th centuries, the regional toponym Tumen was replaced by the analog Sibiria, which according to available data corresponds to the political history of the region, but with a significant delay.

In the 1620-30s, on some maps, instead of the city Sibiria/Sibir, Tobol metroplis Sibiriae appears – by this time, the Siberian Khanate (and its capital Sibir) had not existed for about half a century – since the Russian conquest. Meanwhile, maps reproducing old authoritative samples also continued to be printed. Sometimes in the same atlas, maps giving information of varying relevance coexist, with a gap of several decades or more.

Despite a significant update of geographical data about Siberia in general and its southwestern part by the beginning of the 18th century, maps still retained Lucomorie, Grustinski, and Slavicized regional-tribal toponyms Condorski and Permski, which were little understood by Europeans but traditional.

This tradition was interrupted by French cartographers, who radically revised the cartographic images of Asia, removing information dating back to the 16th century and earlier periods, dubious and unverified objects, replacing them with the most current and fresh data. Nevertheless, the power of tradition is felt in the “large collective names”: although Siberia on the given map, in accordance with the practice that had existed for about a century, turns from a regional toponym of the Northwestern part of Asia into a larger unit covering a significant part of all Northern Asia, the traditional Tartaria doesn’t disappear anywhere, but only shifts slightly to the south and east. Moreover, the same practice is copied by Russian educational maps and atlases. Although on detailed maps built on their own sources, there is no place left for Tartaria (or even Scythia), on overview maps produced by literal translation and uncritical copying, traditional European cartographic images are present.

[1] Belich I.V. On the etymology, semantics and history of the medieval name of Tyumen // Bulletin of Archaeology, Anthropology and Ethnography. 2006. No.7. pp.143-157. Among the names of cities located in the upper right corner of the 5th sheet of this work, Sebur and Singui are read (deciphered according to: Lelewel I. Géographie du Moyen Age. Bruxelles, 1852. T. 21. P. 52–88.), the author identifies the second toponym with Tsymgi (Chimgi)-Tura, known from sources of the 16th-17th centuries.

[2] If Ortelius and Mercator were more like colleagues and possibly friends, then further the tradition was passed mainly along the family line: Jodocus Hondius bought the galleys of Mercator’s atlas from his grandson and created a large family business, which involved his sons and son-in-law. The next cartographic dynasty – already in the mid-17th century – was the Blaeu family.

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