from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Same as portolano.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun nautical A chart of European navigable waters based on descriptions of coasts


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • Proust was revisiting a world he knew in the recent past, whereas Memory Maps spreads out in rings beyond the familiar and personal past into more distant time too, and charts, like an old portolan, unexamined coastlines, land masses, and possible harbours.

    Memory Maps The Nag 2007


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  • "Another great source of geographic knowledge came from portolans, sailing directions with charts and descriptions of harbors, designed for mariners. Starting in the middle of the fifteenth century, charts in the portolan tradition displayed the progressive stages of discovery from Cape Bojador on the west coast of Africa to China and from Labrador to the Straits of Magellan. By the beginning of the sixteenth century, cartographers could accurately draw the full outline of Africa. For southern Asia, they went as far as the Bay of Bengal. Portolan maps improved with each iteration, which was not true of printed maps based on Ptolemy."

    --Joyce Appleby, Shores of Knowledge: New World Discoveries and the Scientific Imagination (New York and London: W.W. Norton & Co., 2013), p. 65

    December 28, 2016