Makian As It Appears from the Side of Ngofakiaha


This view of the island of Makian and the village of Ngofakiaha in the Maluku Islands (present-day Indonesia) is from the Atlas Blaeu-Van der Hem. Representing the entire surface of the Earth, the 50 volume work is often considered the most beautiful and most remarkable atlas ever composed. The collectors atlas (a special form of compiling cartographic material) was based on the Atlas Maior (Great atlas), published in Amsterdam by Joan Blaeu (1596–1673) in various editions between 1662 and 1672. This was the largest and most expensive book produced in the 17th century. The Amsterdam patrician, bibliophile, and lawyer Laurens Van der Hem (1621–78) acquired the 1662 Latin edition of Blaeu’s atlas, containing 593 maps. He added more than 1,800 maps, charts, townscapes, and other drawings and prints, many of them beautifully colored by well-known artists of the day. Among the most important additions made by Van der Hem was a four-volume set of manuscript maps and topographical drawings originally produced for the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC—Dutch East India Company), containing confidential information belonging to the company. These volumes, from which this view is taken, became known as the “secret atlas of the VOC.” In 1730, after the death of Van der Hems’s daughter, the atlas was purchased by Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663–1736). It later came into the possession of the Hofbibliotek (Imperial Library) in Vienna. The Atlas Blaeu-Van der Hem was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2003.

Last updated: May 24, 2017