C1598

EAST INDIES ROUTE-"The description of the coast of Abex, the Straights of Meca, otherwise called the Red Sea..."

Mapmaker:

Jan Huyghen Linschoten (1563 - 1611)

The very rare English edition (1598) of Linschoten’s ground breaking map which revealed for the first time the sea route to the Spice Islands, via the African west coast, then to Goa and onto Malacca, from the most important and … Read Full Description

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Details

Full Title:

EAST INDIES ROUTE-“The description of the coast of Abex, the Straights of Meca, otherwise called the Red Sea…”

Date:

C1598

Mapmaker:

Jan Huyghen Linschoten (1563 - 1611)

Condition:

Repaired tear to left margin as often found, otherwise in good condition. Two sheets joined.

Technique:

Hand coloured copper engraving.

Paper Size: 

525mm 
x 400mm
AUTHENTICITY
EAST INDIES ROUTE-"The description of the coast of Abex, the Straights of Meca, otherwise called the Red Sea..." - Antique Map from 1598

Genuine antique
dated:

1598

Description:

The very rare English edition (1598) of Linschoten’s ground breaking map which revealed for the first time the sea route to the Spice Islands, via the African west coast, then to Goa and onto Malacca, from the most important and detailed c.16th travel account of the Orient.

Linschoten’s, Itinerario, account revealed for the first time, the sea routes and also provided the crucial navigational information (rutters) to all the important Spice Islands.

this inestimable book, a treasure of all the learning respecting the East and West Indies” (Sabin).

The surprising fact about the representation of the [Arabian] peninsula is the close resemblance of the outline to that of a modern map when compared with other engraved maps of the time. There is a vague suggestion of the Qatar peninsula, which is not seen again until the nineteenth century” (Tibbets).

​“This important work contains all the knowledge and learning related to the East and West Indies and navigations to those parts that was available at the end of the sixteenth century. It was held in such high esteem that for nearly a century a copy was given to each ship sailing to India as a guide to the sailing directions. The fact that most copies were in continual use is in no doubt the reason that fine copies, especially with all correct plates and maps, are so very rare” (Hill).

The map extends from Africa to the East Indies and includes the Portuguese controlled centres of the lucrative spice trade. When issued, this map was the most up-to-date and detailed navigational chart of the Indian Ocean and Arabian sea. It provided for the first time Portuguese information obtained by Linschoten during his employment by the Archbishop of Goa and which was later revealed in his published accounts.

In the early 16th century, the Netherlands were united with Spain under the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (Dom Carlos I, Emperor of Spain). Seeking religious freedom and independence from tyrannical rule, the Netherlands fought an extended war against Spain, finally declaring independence with the establishment of the Seven United Provinces in 1579. The creation of a united and independent Dutch state had a profound effect on the course of European power struggles. In 1580, Charles’s successor, Phillip II, invaded Portugal and in order to appease the Portuguese gentry after the conquest, gave exclusive shipping rights over European coastal trade to the Portuguese. This effectively barred Dutch merchants from trading in goods from the East and forced them to search for an alternative source of supply.

In June 1594, Linschoten returned to the Netherlands and immediately set sail on the Mercury, under the command of William Barentz, in search of a north-east passage to the Orient. The following year, with the assistance of the Amsterdam publisher Cornelis Claesz, Linschoten wrote Reysgeschrift van der Navigatien der Portugaloysers in Orienten (Travel Accounts of Portuguese Navigation in the Orient) from observations collected on his travels. This work contained a large number of sailing directions, not only of shipping routes between Portugal and the East Indies but also between India, China and Japan. This information unlocked the secrets of the Portuguese spice trade at a pivotal time for Dutch merchants. Linschoten followed this work a year later with his Itinerario (1596), which not only incorporated his previous work but expanded the account to incorporate information on the Americas. In 1598 it was pirated in an English translation by the London publisher John Wolfe with the title John Huighen van Linschoten, His discours of voyages into ye Easte and West Indies: deuided into foure bookes.

In these accounts, Linschoten suggested approaching the Indies via the western side of Sumatra and the Sunda Strait in order to avoid the Portuguese controlled straits of Malacca. His Itinerario contained so much detailed and accurate information about shipping lanes, winds, and currents, that seafarers could virtually use it as a handbook. Many of his maps were in fact copies of charts by the Portuguese cartographer Ferno Vaz Dourado. Linschoten’s work was ‘held in such high esteem that for nearly a century, a copy was given to each ship proceeding to India for use as a guide to the sailing directions’ (Wardington). The regular use of Linschoten’s account by pilots and captains aboard merchant ships has made existing copies of his work extremely rare.

From John Huighen van Linschoten his Discours of Voyages unto ye Easte & West Indies. Devided into Foure Bookes.

References:
Hill, J. The Hill Collection of Pacific Voyages. San Diego 1974: 1025.
Sabin, J. A Dictionary of Books Relating to America, from its Discovery to the Present Time. New York. (1936) 1967.: 41374.
Tibbetts, G. Arabia in Early Maps. Cambridge 1978: p.16, entry 46, ill.6..
Linschoten, J. H. The Voyage of Linschoten .. Hayluyt Society. 2010: pp.158-227.


Collections:
National Library Australia: Bib ID 734669

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