Catalan Atlas

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     The map that forms the background of the stamps on the souvenir sheet is based on the Catalan Atlas of 1375 by Abraham Cresques ( 1387), a Jew who worked in the court of Peter of Aragon, ruler of the Mediterranean island of Majorca. The atlas was mounted on eight panels of wood which could be folded like a screen. It reflected information from a variety of sources, including the travels of Marco Polo. The Catalan Atlas presented a view of the world that was a very accurate representation of the world as it was known a century before the discovery of the western hemisphere. Peter of Aragon sent the atlas as a gift to Emperor Charles V in 1381.

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     Susan Ludmer-Gliebe published an article, "Golden Rhumb Lines of Connection," on the Catalan Atlas in Mercator's World March/April 1999, pp. 58-61.

Mansa Musa

     Mansa means "king" and Musa is the Arabic name for Moses. Mansa Musa became king of Mali in 1307, ruling from Timbuktu until 1337. On the map his name is given as Musa Meli, and he is described as follows: "This Negro lord is called Musa Mali, Lord of the Negroes of Guinea. So abundant is the gold which is found in his country that he is the richest and most noble king in all the land." He  wields a scepter with a fleur-de-lys,  holds a object of gold and wears a golden crown or European style. In 1324 he made an epic pilgrimage to Mecca with a caravan of 60,000 men, 80 camels each carrying 300 pounds of gold.

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