The Description of the Coast of Guinea, Manicongo, and Angola, and so Proceeding Forwards beyond the Cape of Good Hope, with all the Harbors, Islands, Cliffs, Sandbars, and Shallows


This highly decorative map of the southwestern coast of Africa was published in 1598 in Iohn Hvighen van Linschoten: His Discours of Voyages into ye Easte & West Indies Devided into Foure Bookes. The original edition of this most important cartographic work was issued in Amsterdam two years earlier under the title Itinerario, voyage ofte schipvaert van Jan Huygen van Linschoten naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien. Jan Huygen van Linschoten (1563‒1611) spent five years in the “Portuguese State of India” and its capital at Goa in the 1580s. There he learned the safe navigation routes to Asia, which the Portuguese treated as closely guarded national secrets in order to protect their monopoly on trade with the Spice Islands. The Amsterdam bookseller, printer, and publisher Cornelis Claesz recognized the potential in Van Linschoten’s knowledge of the East, and helped him to produce the three books of the Itinerario. Claesz supplemented the narrative with maps by well-known cartographers, such as the map shown here, superbly engraved in the Flemish style by Florent van Langren. The scale is in German miles and Spanish leagues. It includes coastal views of the South Atlantic islands of Ascension and Saint Helena within a strapwork cartouche at the bottom of the map and two compass roses. The title cartouche is decorated with birds, fruit, and scroll-work. The sea is decorated with ships and a sea monster, the land with animals and mythical creatures. The map shows the western coast of Africa from the Gulf of Guinea to just beyond the Cape of Good Hope, with excellent detail along the coastline.

Last updated: January 17, 2017