1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Brazil (island)

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BRAZIL, or Brasil, a legendary island in the Atlantic Ocean. The name connects itself with the red dye-woods so called in the middle ages, possibly also applied to other vegetable dyes, and so descending from the Insulae Purpurariae of Pliny. It first appears as the I. de Brazi in the Venetian map of Andrea Bianco (1436), where it is found attached to one of the larger islands of the Azores. When this group became better known and was colonized, the island in question was renamed Terceira. It is probable that the familiar existence of “Brazil” as a geographical name led to its bestowal upon the vast region of South America, which was found to supply dye-woods kindred to those which the name properly denoted. The older memory survived also, and the Island of Brazil retained its place in mid-ocean, some hundred miles to the west of Ireland, both in the traditions of the forecastle and in charts. In J. Purdy’s General Chart of the Atlantic, “corrected to 1830,” the “Brazil Rock (high)” is marked with no indication of doubt, in 51° 10′ N. and 15° 50′ W. In a chart of currents by A. G. Findlay, dated 1853, these names appear again. But in his 12th edition of Purdy’s Memoir Descriptive and Explanatory of the N. Atlantic Ocean (1865), the existence of Brazil and some other legendary islands is briefly discussed and rejected. (See also Atlantis.)