Superb hand coloured c.17th map of Goa by Matthaus Merian based on Jan Huyghen van Linschoten’s earlier map first issued 1596 in his rare work, Itinerario, Voyage ofte Schipvaert. naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien. The map includes an extensive key … Read Full Description

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Full Title:





In good condition, with centre fold as issued.


Hand coloured copper engraving.

Image Size: 

x 270mm
EAST INDIES ROUTE-Goa. - Antique Map from 1646

Genuine antique



Superb hand coloured c.17th map of Goa by Matthaus Merian based on Jan Huyghen van Linschoten’s earlier map first issued 1596 in his rare work, Itinerario, Voyage ofte Schipvaert. naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien.

The map includes an extensive key of forty three principal places in the city.

Linschoten described Goa as a key trading port for goods from the region, including, importantly, spices arriving from the Moluccas. While Goa had been a centre of the spice trade since early times, the Portuguese and their maritime empire greatly expanded the city’s importance. Linschoten’s unlikely presence there and his equally unlikely access to the closely held maritime and trading secrets of the Portuguese Empire, enabled him to publish what became an explosive account, changing the course of history and shaping the destinies of the European maritime powers for the next two hundred years.

Merian uses the same perspective as Linschoten’s map but changes or removes some of the decorative embellishments or/and replaces them with elaborate ones reflecting the change of tastes. Other minor changes include the number and placement of the ships. Minor details such as the elephant in the open area at the port is in both maps.

Linschoten, the author of the most important travel account of the East Indies revealed, for the first time, the exact location of the navigational routes to the fabled Spice Islands, effectively bringing an end to Portuguese control of the lucrative spice trade in the East. He was born in Haarlem in the Netherlands, leaving at the age of thirteen to join his brothers in Seville where he remained employed in the house of a merchant for six years. After the Portuguese War of Succession in 1580 and the decline of his brother’s business, Linschoten travelled with his brother aboard the India Fleet to Goa where he had secured employment as a clerk of the newly appointed Portuguese Archbishop.

The Portuguese first took possession of Goa following Admiral Afonso de Albuquerue’s conquest over the Ottoman forces in 1510. The city was then used as a base to further expand Portuguese presence through the region. Albuquerque then conquered Malacca in 1511 gaining control of the important Malacca straits and with it, the route to the Spice Islands. By the time of Linschoten’s arrival in September 1583, Goa was the jewel in the crown of the Portuguese empire and one of the premier cities of the world, rivalling many European cities in importance and fame.

A common saying of the time was, “he who has seen Goa need not see Lisbon“. Indeed, the city enjoyed the same civic privileges as Lisbon, with the Goan Senate having direct links to the King and its own special representative at court. As capital of the Portuguese’s extensive East Indian empire, Goa was the centre of military, political and religious power in the region. The Archbishop of Goa was a powerful position, equal in social and political status to the Viceroy of India, who also resided in Goa and who was responsible for all the Portuguese interests in Asia, including the East Indies. Linschoten spent just over six years in Goa, during which time he keenly observed the administration of the city, the people and the trade that flourished there. In his published account Itinerario, Linschoten described the wealth, power and commerce of the cosmopolitan city, stating that:

“The Citie of Goa, is the Metropolitan or chiefe Cittie of all Orientall Indies, where the Portingales have their traffique, where also the Viceroye, the Archbishop, the Kings Councel, and Chauncerie have their residence, and from thence are all [places in] the Orientall Indiess, governed and ruled. There is likewise the staple for all Indian commodoties, whether all sorts of Marchants doe resort, comming thether both to buy and sell, as out of Arabia, Armenia, Persia, Cambaia, Bengala, Pegu, Sian, Malacca, Java, Molucca, China,’ etc.

From Merian M. Newe Archontologia Cosmica

Matthaus Merian (1593 - 1650)

Matthaus Merian (1593-1650) was a Swiss publisher and engraver born in Basel who in 1615 moved to Germany where he worked for Johan Theodor de Bry. In 1617, Merian married Maria Magdalena de Bry, daughter of the publisher, and for a time associated with the de Bry publishing house. In 1620 they moved back to Basel, but three years later returned to Frankfurt. They had four daughters and three sons, including Matthäus Merian the Younger. Maria Magdalena de Bry died in 1645 and the following year Matthäus married Johanna Catharina Hein. Five years later, Matthäus died, leaving his wife with two small children, Anna Maria Sibylla Merian (born 1647) who later became a pioneering naturalist and illustrator. In 1623 Merian took over the publishing house of his father-in-law after de Bry's death. In 1626 he became a citizen of Frankfurt and could therefore work as an independent publisher. He spent most of his working life in Frankfurt.

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