Nautical Atlas of the World, Folio 4 Recto, Magnus Sinus and Folio 4 Verso, China Sea with the Moluccas


The map presented here is from the Miller Atlas in the collections of the National Library of France. Produced for King Manuel I of Portugal in 1519 by cartographers Pedro Reinel, his son Jorge Reinel, and Lopo Homem and miniaturist António de Holanda, the atlas contains eight maps on six loose sheets, painted on both sides. The maps were richly decorated and illuminated by António de Holanda, a Dutch native who had been in Portugal for nearly ten years. The illustrations include ornate images of castles, towns, and architectural wonders; views of forests and other vegetation; depictions of native peoples and animals; and, as seen here, a splendid griffin. The shapes of some towns and coastlines are quite detailed. For other parts of the world about which Europeans still had limited knowledge, geographic details are drawn from the cartographer’s imagination or informed by views that originated with Ptolemy.  One side of the map (folio 4 recto in the atlas) shows the Magnus Sinus (the Great Gulf, or the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea). The other side (folio 4 verso) shows, on the right half folio, the China Sea with the Moluccas; the left half shows only rhumb lines. The atlas takes its name from Emmanuel Miller, who purchased it in 1855 from a bookseller in Santarém, Portugal. Miller’s widow sold it to the National Library of France in 1897.

Last updated: November 29, 2017