Map Outlining the Maritime Coasts of Arabia Felix, the Meccan Shores, and also the Red Sea, the Arabian Peninsula, Hormuz, Persia, from Sinda to the Indus River, Khambhat in India and Malabar, the Island of Ceylon, the Coromandel Coast, the Orixa Coast, the River Ganges, and the Kingdom of Bengal


Jan Huygen van Linschoten (1563−1611) was a Dutchman whose contributions to cartography were of great significance in breaking the Portuguese monopoly on trade and navigation in the late 16th century and in opening up southern Asia to the Dutch and later the English. As a young man, van Linschoten spent four years in Spain learning a trade. He then made his way to Lisbon, where he was taken on by the archbishop of Goa, the capital of the “Portuguese State of India.” The Portuguese were the only Europeans who knew the safe navigation routes to the East, which they regarded as closely guarded national secrets upon which their wealth depended. Van Linschoten was in Goa in 1583−88, during which time he gained much nautical and mercantile knowledge. On his voyage home he was shipwrecked in the Azores, where he had time to write an account of his travels. He is best known for his magnum opus Itinerario, first published in Amsterdam in 1596, of which this map forms part. The shape of the Arabian Peninsula, including the whole of Arabia, is far more accurate here than on any earlier map. Julfar (present-day Ras al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates) is indicated for the first time. The arrowhead-shaped Qatar Peninsula, called Catura, is clearly distinguishable, located in the midst of an oyster-bed represented by small pearl-dots. Inscriptions proclaim that the map shows “the location of the gulfs and of the islands, the cliffs, raised earths, shallows, and [their] depths, that are close to these shores, with correct names for the single places, as it is required by the very expert Lusitanian pilots of ships: revised with great accuracy from excellent Indian maps, and corrected throughout.” Distance scales are given in Spanish leagues and German miles.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Cornelis Claesz, Amsterdam

Title in Original Language

Deliniantur in hac tabula, Orae maritimae Abexiae, freti Mecani ; al. Maris Rubri ; Arabiae, Ormi, Persiae, suprà Sindam usque Fluminis Indi, Cambaiae Indiae & Malabaris, Insulae Ceylon, Choromandeliae, & Orixae, fluvii Gangis, & Regni Bengalae, situs item Sinuum, Insularum, Scopulorum, Pulvinorum, Vadorum, profunditatumque, dictis oris adjacentium, cum genuinis Singulorum locorum Nominibus, prout ab expertissimis navium Gubernatoribus Lusitanicis, indigetantur

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 map : hand colored ; 38 x 54 centimeters


  1. Utrecht University Library, “Key to the East: Jan Huygen van Linschoten’s ‘Itinerario’,”

Last updated: November 3, 2015