Map of the Red Sea from Mocha to Jeddah


This large and detailed nautical chart of the southern half of the Red Sea, with depth soundings, rhumb lines, and profiles of the coastal hills, dates from 1775. It includes three map insets with views of Shake Omare, Goofs, and Gedan near the important port of Jeddah. One of its distinctive features is its unusual alignment, with Moka (present-day Mocha, Yemen) shown at top right and Gedda (present-day Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), some 1,000 kilometers northwest, at the left edge of the map. As noted under the title, the original source of the map was Jean Law of Lauriston, commander of the French settlements in India in the mid-18th century. It was created in the form presented here by Jean-Baptiste-Nicolas-Denis d’Après de Mannevillette (1707‒80), a celebrated French navigator, cartographer, and one of the first French hydrographers, who had a long and distinguished career in the Compagnie française pour le commerces des Indes orientales (French East India Company). D’Après Mannevillette studied under the famous Guillaume de L’Isle (1678‒1756), the king’s geographer. Using new instruments while on a voyage to China in 1728, he was able to correct the latitudes of many places. Upon his return to France, he corrected and published existing maps of the route to China: from the Red Sea to the coasts of India, Malaya, and the northern parts of Indonesia, Indochina, and China. From 1735 he began collecting charts and material about the navigation of Africa and the Indies. He also traveled extensively for this purpose. During his many voyages, d’Après de Mannevillette collected or created a number of charts for a hydrographic atlas, which, with the assistance of the Academie des Sciences, he published in Paris in 1745 as the Le Neptune oriental (The oriental navigator) with 22 maps. For the next 30 years, with the help of his friend the eminent British hydrographer Alexander Dalrymple, d’Après de Mannevillette revised his charts for a second and enlarged edition, which appeared in 1775 and contained 41 new charts. This comprehensive atlas was used on all French and many foreign ships when navigating the Indian Ocean.

Last updated: May 2, 2017