ESPAGNOL 30 – Mansa Moussa empereur du Mali

Abraham Cresques (Majorcan, 1325–1387) Atlas of Maritime Charts (The Catalan Atlas), 1375, Illuminated parchment mounted on six wooden panels, each 25 3/8 × 9 13/16 in. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, Ms. Espagnol 30

Made as a gift for Charles V, the king of France, and drawn by the Jewish cartographer Abraham Cresques, the map known as the Catalan Atlas was a showcase of state-of-the-art mapmaking in the 14th century. The prominent portrait of Mansa Musa, the emperor of Mali, on the second panel attests to the importance of West African gold in the medieval global economy. The caption explains: “This Moorish ruler is named Musse Melly [Mansa Musa], lord of the Negroes of Guinea. This king is the richest and most distinguished ruler of this whole region on account of the great quantity of gold that is found in his lands.”