Although the Strait of Magellan is the centre of attention for the beholder, the coasts depicted with their toponyms exclusively related to geographical features, on the extreme south of the continent, extend from the Rio de la Plata and Patagonia, on the eastern side, to the coast of Chile, on the western side, and northwards up to the vicinity of the modern day border of Peru, going by the figures shown on the latitude scale.
North of the Strait of Magellan the chart depicts an unknown space discovered by the Europeans, the so-called New World or “Mundvs Novvs”; to the south it portrays Tierra del Fuego, conceived perhaps as an island or a tongue of an imagined Antarctic continent, since the contours of its coast were not concluded. The bottom of the chart shows the Antarctic Circle: “Circvlvs antarticvs”.
The exclusively Spanish possession of the territories is indicated by three shields bearing the coats of arms of Castile/Aragon: one on each side of the continent and another over Tierra del Fuego.
João Carlos Garcia
Faculdade de Letras, Universidade do Porto
(Fragment of the Universal Atlas of Fernão Vaz Dourado commentary volume)
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