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The Carta Marina in Images

Portugese King Manuel riding sea monster

Portugese King Manuel riding sea monster

(Image credit: Courtesy of the Library of Congress and the Jay I Kislak Foundation.)

The Carta marina depicts King Manuel of Portugal riding a sea monster near the southern tip of Africa, symbolizing Portugal's control of the sea route between Africa and India.

Neptune riding sea monster in Jacopo de’ Barbari’s print of Venice

Neptune riding sea monster

(Image credit: Courtesy of the Library of Congress and the Jay I Kislak Foundation.)

The King Manuel image was most likely inspired by an image of Neptune riding a sea monster in Italian printmaker Jacopo de’ Barbari’s print of Venice.

Noah's ark on mountains of Armenia

Noah's ark on mountains of Armenia

(Image credit: Courtesy of the Library of Congress and the Jay I Kislak Foundation.)

The map includes an image of Noah's Ark resting in the Mountains of Armenia, probably based on similar images in other nautical charts of the time.

Hindu widow burning herself on husband's funeral pyre

Hindu widow on funeral pyre

(Image credit: Courtesy of the Library of Congress and the Jay I Kislak Foundation.)

In India, the Carta marina depicts an image of "suttee," the Hindu practice of a widow burning herself to death on the funeral pyre of her husband.

Rhinoceros on Carta marina

Rhinoceros on Carta marina

(Image credit: Courtesy of the Library of Congress and the Jay I Kislak Foundation.)

Waldseemüller's map has an image of a rhinoceros thought by some to be copied from an Albrecht Dürer print. But Waldseemüller's rhino more closely resembles a print by Hans Burgkmair.

The Great Khan on the Carta marina

The Great Khan on the Carta marina

(Image credit: Courtesy of the Library of Congress and the Jay I Kislak Foundation.)

The Carta marina features a picture of the Great Khan in China. The image's origin is still open to interpretation.

Tanya Lewis
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.