Labyrinth of Terrestrial and Naval Commerce, in Which the Types of Merchandise and Forms of Contracting on the Land and Sea are Briefly and Concisely Treated, in a Useful and Productive Manner for Merchants


Labyrintho de comercio terrestre y naval (Labyrinth of terrestrial and naval commerce) was published in Lima, Peru, in 1617. Written by Juan de Hevia Bolaños (1570−circa 1623), a legal scholar who was born in Spain but lived much of his life in Lima, the book is compendium of the laws and customs regulating commerce in different countries of the world. Intended for practical use by mariners and merchants, it was the first such book published in the Western hemisphere. The first printing press in South America was established in Lima by Antonio Ricardo (circa 1540−1606), an Italian who had worked for a time as a printer with the Jesuits in Mexico City. This book is part of a collection of 39 first editions in the National Library of Peru, produced at the press between 1584 and 1619. The collection was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2013. In Latin, Spanish, and several Amerindian languages, these books are an important part of the record of the encounter between two worlds: the Amerindian civilization of the Incas and the European culture represented by the Spanish conquistadors. They are important sources for the study of the dissemination of ideas in the Spanish Empire, including the evangelization process and the diffusion of Catholicism on the one hand and the debate over the indigenous peoples and their condition as human beings on the other. Several of the books provide insights into the political, cultural, and social organization of the vanquished Inca civilization, as well as a record of the Quechua and Aymara languages spoken by the Incas.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Francisco del Canto, Lima, Peru


Title in Original Language

Labyrintho de comercio terrestre y naval. Donde breve y compendiosamente se trata de la Mercancia y Contratacion de tierra y mar, vtil y prouechoʃo para Mercaderes, Negociadores, Nauegantes, y ʃus Conʃulados, Miniʃtros de los Iuyzios, profeʃʃores de Derechos, y otras perʃonas

Type of Item

Physical Description

799 pages ; 15 x 10 centimeters

Last updated: February 4, 2015