Accompanied by a certificate issued by Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique
Maps Inc. confirming the authenticity of this lot
This is a gorgeous 16th-century map of China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, the
Philippines, Straits of Malacca, Borneo, Java, and Beach engraved by Henricus Van
Langren for Linschoten’s Itinerario. Linschoten’s map extends from Marco Polo’s
Beach, Java, Timor and part of Nova Guinea in the south to Japan, the Island of Korea
and China in the north. The map includes a tremendously detailed treatment of the
region, displaying a marvelous blend of mythical cartographic detail and contemporary
Portuguese knowledge in the region, embellished by Sea Monsters, indigenous
animals, two compass roses and sailing vessels.
Linschoten’s map is the first published map of the Far East to be prepared primarily
from Portuguese sources. The map is emblematic of the end of the Portuguese
monopoly on the East Indian trade and was among the most important sources of
information on Southeast Asia during the 16th Century. The map is oriented with
west at the top. While based primarily on Portuguese portolan charts, Linschoten also
drew on the cartographic work of Plancius. Southeast Asia and Japan are based on the
cartography of Ferñao Vaz Dourado, and China on the map of Barbuda. The Philippines
is drawn from de Lasso with the curious orientation of Palawan.
Linschoten also depicts information from the travel account of Marco Polo, including
the location of the mythical land of Beach provincia auriferain, the region where
Australia would eventually be discovered. On the mainland, the course of the Mekong
is placed too far west, significantly distorting the region. The four large lakes in the
interior are based on Chinese legend. Korea is shown as a large circular island.
Linschoten’s maps are styled after Portuguese portolan charts of the 16th Century,
upon which the map is based. Even in printed form, these maps retain the lush
decorative flourishes of their sources. Linschoten acquired most of the information
for the map while serving as the secretary to the Portuguese archbishop in Goa, India
from 1583 to 1589. Of particular value were the sailing guides he obtained that not
only provided the best sailing routes to the East Indies and its lucrative spice trade but
also showed the way from port to port once there. Upon his return to the Netherlands,
Linschoten published these documents with accompanying maps and his own
descriptions of the area in his monumental Itinerario. Few books have had a greater
influence on historical events.
The extensive details of coastal and other navigational points are likely based on
portolan charts of the Portuguese, especially those by Bartolomeu Lasso. Linschoten
was “one of the pathfinders for the first Dutch voyages to the East” (Schilder, p. 195).
He was in the service of the Portuguese as Secretary to the Portuguese Archbishop of
Goa in India from 1583 to 1589. Here, he had access to many Portuguese portolans as
well as other valuable commercial information, especially as Goa at this time was the
commercial and political center for the Portugal Empire in the East. Van Linschoten left
Goa for home in January 1589. On the way to Portugal, his ship was pursued by an
English fleet and lost its cargo in a storm while anchored off the Azores. After the loss
of the cargo, Van Linschoten was persuaded to stay and help recover it; he spent two
years on Tercera, working and preparing his notes from Goa. Van Linschoten eventually
arrived in Lisbon early in 1592, and then sailed home to the Netherlands. His account of his experiences is one of the most important travel works of the period.