January 17, 2017

From the Shores of Gujarat, Malabar, Bengal and Malacca, to the Kingdom of Siam and China in the East

This attractive map of Southeast Asia was published in Leiden in 1700 and covers, to the west most of India; as far east as southern China and the Korean Peninsula; and to the south Thailand, most of the Malay Peninsula, and northern Sumatra. The map may have been created in the 16th century as a later record of the voyage that Lopo Soares de Albergaria (circa 1453‒circa 1532) made to Asia in 1515 on behalf of King Manuel I of Portugal. It was published by Pieter Van der Aa (1659‒1733), Dutch publisher and bookseller based in Leiden who specialized in reissuing maps acquired from earlier mapmakers. Van der Aa published numerous maps and atlases, including his Naaukeurige versameling der gedenkwaardigste zee en landreysen na Ost en West-Indien (Accurate collection of the most memorable travels by sea and land between the East and West Indies) in 1706‒8 and Galerie agréable du monde (Attractive gallery of the world) completed in 1729. Van der Aa’s maps generally are more renowned as decorative objects than for their geographical correctness. Many of his maps included large and decorative title cartouches. The cartouche on this map features a man and his servant, a temple and worshippers, and elephants. Scale is given in German miles and Spanish miles.


This fine woodcut map of Sumatra is the first separate map of an Indonesian island to be based on actual empirical data. It is based on Delle Navigationi et Viaggi (Navigations and travels) by Giovanni Battista Ramusio, which was published in three volumes in Venice in 1550−59. Ramusio was a Venetian diplomat, geographer, and historian. Delle Navigationi et Viaggi is a massive work that includes Ramusio’s translations into Italian of many first-hand accounts of the exploration, up to the mid-16th century, of Africa, the New World, and Asia, along with maps by the Venetian cartographer Giacomo Gastaldi (circa 1500−circa 1565). The book contains an account of the voyage of the Parmentier brothers, Frenchmen who landed on the west coast of Sumatra in 1529 in defiance of the Portuguese monopoly on the spice trade in the East Indies and their blockade on foreign access to the island. Both brothers subsequently died of fever. Prior to the publication of Ramusio's map, Sumatra had been confused with Sri Lanka and maps of the island were largely conjectural, based primarily on the writings of Marco Polo. The map is oriented with south at the top.  The shape of the island and many of its features are quite accurately portrayed. No part of the nearby Malay Peninsula or the island of Java is shown, although several of the surrounding small islands, such as Bancha (present-day Bangka), are displayed. The interior of the map is illustrated with scenes that depict vegetation, animals, and native figures at work and play; the surrounding seas contain ships and numerous creatures, both real and imaginary.

Fez and the Kingdom of Morocco

In 1604, a decade after the death of Gerhard Mercator (1512‒94), one of the great cartographers of all time, the globe maker, engraver, and publisher Jodocus Hondius (1563‒1612) bought the plates to Mercator’s atlas from his grandsons. Hondius then worked with his brother-in-law, the engraver Pieter van der Keere, to add about 40 new maps to Mercator’s atlas to create what became known as the “Mercator-Hondius Atlas,” published in Amsterdam in 1606. Later operated by his sons and son-in-law, the publishing house of Jodocus Hondius remained one of the most important firms active in the European map trade until the early 1630s. This decorative map of Morocco with its original coloring is one of those added in the atlas in 1606. It was revised by Hondius, based on an earlier map of Mercator, and engraved by van der Keere. It shows the North African coast of Morocco south to Cape Bojador and extends west to the Canary Islands and Madeira and north to the Spanish coast. In the upper-left corner is an inset showing a high-angled pictorial view of the rock fortress of Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera. Relief is shown pictorially. Scale is given in Spanish leagues and German common miles. Some of the labels are embellished by fine flourishes and the map includes illustrations of sailing ships, a sea monster, castles, churches, and mosques.

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.

The Big Island of Ceylon, or Ilanare, Called Chilan by the Arabs, Persians and Chinese

This fine map of Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) was originally drawn to illustrate an account by the Portuguese historian João de Barros (1496‒1570) of the voyage to Asia that Lopo Soares de Albergaria (circa 1453‒circa 1532) made in 1515 on behalf of King Manuel I of Portugal. Relief is shown pictorially, north is oriented to the right, and scale is given in Dutch, Spanish, and French miles. The Portuguese established a foothold in Ceylon in the early 1500s, but it was only in 1517 that Lopo Soares, the third governor of Portuguese India, obtained permission from the local authorities to build a fortress at Colombo (marked Kolombo on the map). The Portuguese dominated the coastal areas of the island until they were expelled by the Dutch in 1658. The map shows Candy (present-day Kandy), Jafnapatnam (present-day Jaffna), and Fort Tirikonamalea (present-day Trincomalee). The edition of the map presented here was published in 1720 by Pieter Van der Aa (1659‒1733), a publisher, editor, and bookseller in Leiden, Netherlands, who reproduced many rare maps by earlier travelers.

Persia, or the Safavid Kingdom

This decorative and detailed map of Persia is by Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571‒1638), a Dutch cartographer, globe maker, and publisher. Blaeu trained with the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe and began producing maps and charts in the early years of the 17th century. In 1633 he became the official cartographer for the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC—Dutch East India Company). Blaeu is best known for his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum sive Atlas Novus (New map and atlas of the world), published in Amsterdam in 1635, of which this hand-colored map formed part. It shows Persia extending from the eastern Mediterranean to the Indus River, with the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf in the south, and the Caspian Sea, Russia, and Tartary in the north. The map shows Safavid Persia at the height of its power. It includes areas of present-day Iran, Iraq, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Hundreds of towns and cities are noted, as well as rivers, lakes, mountain ranges, and turquoise mines. A decorative title cartouche shows a Persian ruler with two guards holding spears and swords; a sailing ship is seen in the Indian Ocean. The two scales are in German common miles and in parasangs (the Persian equivalent of leagues). Willem Janzoon’s son, Joan Blaeu (1596‒1673), continued publishing maps and atlases, including the Atlas Blaeu-Van der Hem, one of the most beautiful and remarkable atlases ever made.

Geographic Description of the Travels of the Apostles and the Journeys of Paul, Together with the Countries and Empires Where They First Preached the Gospel

This striking map created in 1642 by Nicolaes Visscher (1618‒79) shows the eastern Mediterranean and environs in the first century AD and the journey of the Apostle Paul from Jerusalem to Rome in 60–61. Nine panels surrounding the map depict major scenes from the life of Paul and the journey, including his being blinded on the road to Damascus, his baptism, his escape from Damascus, shipwreck off the island of Malta (also illustrated on the map), and his appearance before the Emperor Nero in Rome. Each panel is a composite containing two or three scenes from the apostle’s life; annotations link the scenes to the appropriate Bible verses. The map was engraved and hand colored to display the administrative and political divisions of the period. Numerous cities, towns, islands, and regions are labeled, including Memphis, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Babel, Tripoli, Constantinople, Athens, and Rome. The seas are decorated with sailing ships and a compass rose. Members of the Visscher family were important art and map dealers in Amsterdam for about 100 years, beginning in the early 17th century. The Visschers worked primarily as art dealers, but they were also publishers who produced individual maps and compiled atlases to order. Their works are noteworthy for their fine engraving, the accuracy of the maps, and the beautiful illustrations.

The Holy and Expanded City of Jerusalem, First Known as Salem

Shown here is a 1756 reprint of a map of Jerusalem originally created in 1643 by Claes Janszoon Visscher (1586 or 1587‒1652). It offers an imaginary, detailed bird's-eye view of the city, with 36 important locations from the Bible identified by name on a scrollwork legend held up by an eagle. The sites include Solomon’s Temple (upper center), the walls and gates of the city, the crucifixion at Golgotha, or Calvary (bottom left), Berch Gihon, where King Solomon was anointed by Zadok the priest (bottom right), and Herod’s Palace (far left). North is oriented towards the left. The inscription near the base in the center explains that the map was to appear in a Bible before the book of Nehemiah, Chapter 3. The title scroll at top links this image to Genesis, Chapter 14, Verse 18. The map is derived from a similar map by Johann and Henricus Stern, created in 1630. Visscher, his son Nicolaes, and his grandson Nicolaes II were important art and map dealers in Amsterdam for about 100 years, beginning in the early 17th century. The Visschers worked primarily as art dealers, but they were also publishers who produced individual maps and compiled atlases to order. Their works are noteworthy for their fine engraving, the accuracy of the maps, and the beautiful illustrations. Two of the leading artists who worked on Visscher maps were Abraham van den Broeck (1616‒88) and Nicolaes Berchem (1620‒83). This map was long one of the most popular views of Jerusalem to circulate in Europe.

The Fortified City of Oran with its Port on the Barbary Coast

This two-part map and view of the town of Oran, in the northwest of present-day Algeria, was created in 1750 by Matthaeus Seutter (1678‒1756). Seutter was apprenticed to the Nuremberg mapmaker Johan Baptist Homann (1663‒1724) at the end of the 17th century. He returned to his home in Augsburg, where in 1707 he established his own publishing company and produced globes, maps and atlases. In 1715 he became geographer to Charles VI, the Holy Roman Emperor. The splendid allegorical cartouche of the map, showing Zeus in a chariot attended by courtiers, natives, and cherubs, gives Seutter’s imperial title. Seutter and the rival firm of his former teacher Homann both were exemplars of the high south German baroque, with its emphasis on decorative embellishment. Oran was established in the tenth century by Moorish Andalusian merchants. In 1509 Cardinal Cisneros commanded a Castilian expedition that captured the city for Spain. It was conquered by the Turks in 1708, but in 1732 was reconquered by the Spanish, who sought to put an end to the marauding by the Barbary pirates based in the city. The upper part of the work is a bird’s-eye view of Oran, with north oriented to the lower left, showing the market, fortifications, churches, the French consul’s house, the place where the Spanish landed, cliffs, the harbor, and other sites. The lower half is a panorama of the coast with a fleet of colorful ships in the foreground. The legend at top left has a key that refers to significant places on both parts of the map. The scale is given in French miles.

View of Algiers, Seat of Power of the Saracens, in the Numidian Province of Africa and Situated on the Edge of the Balearic Current in the Mediterranean Sea, across from Spain, under the Princes of the Ottoman Empire

Shown here is one of the earliest printed maps of the city of Algiers. The map was created in 1575 by Georg Braun (1540 or 1541‒1622) and Franz Hogenberg (circa 1535‒90) and appeared in their Civitates orbis terrarum (The cities of the world), which was published in Cologne, Germany in six volumes between 1572 and 1616. The Civitates was an extraordinary cartographic achievement that consisted of more than 550 plans and views of cities from all the world as it was understood by Europeans at the time. Braun conceived the project and compiled the descriptive texts for each plate. The layout and scheme for the enterprise resembles the Theatrum orbis terrarum (Theater of the world) by Ortelius, which was also engraved by Hogenberg. The title cartouche and notations on the map are in Latin, while the extensive legend is in Italian. The plate shows the formidably fortified town in a low bird's-eye view. Five mosques are marked, as are several synagogues, cemeteries, palaces, the prison, public baths, and other sites. A mustachioed figure in headdress and kaftan stands at lower left. Algiers was a thriving city under a series of Berber dynasties from the tenth to the 16th centuries. It came under Spanish influence from the early 1300s onward. In 1516 the Greco-Turkish pirate Kheireddin Barbarossa (1478–1546) established himself at Algiers, put an end to Spanish influence, and in 1529 accepted Ottoman sovereignty.