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Lowitz’s Version of the Murillo Velarde Map of the Philippines, the First Indigenous Engraved Map of the Islands

Fine example of Lowitz's two-sheet version of Father Pedro Murillo Velarde's map of the Philippines, the first reasonably obtainable large-format map of the archipelago and the most accurate map of the islands to that date.

The map shows a very detailed view of the islands, with villages, waterways, and historical events marked. There are trees and hills included, although they are more decorative than geographic. There are also two tracks marked on the map. To the north is the route of the Acapulco-Manila galleon, which could sail via Cape Boxeador or through the islands. To the south is the track of Ferdinand Magellan, the first European to visit the islands in 1521. He also died there, although his ship continued on the complete the first circumnavigation of the earth.

Magellan is also mentioned in a description in the bottom left corner which gives a short history of the Europeans in the Philippine Islands. It begins the arrival of Magellan and then discusses Legaspi, who helped to establish the Manila-Acapulco route shown on the map. The description continues with a list of the islands’ many resources and the political and religious organization imposed by the Spanish. Finally, it mentions the indigenous peoples of the islands, who make good engravers, sculptors, mariners, among other professions. They also are said to practice Christianity in several languages.

The Velarde Map, the first indigenous engraved map of the Philippines

This map is a reduced version of the famous map by Father Pedro Murillo Velarde, a Spanish Jesuit priest, historian and cartographer. In the early eighteenth century, Philip V had ordered a new map of the Philippines to be prepared and the task fell to Velarde. In Manila in 1734, he produced the most accurate map of the Philippines then extant.

Father Velarde did so with the help of local artisans, one of whom is named in the elaborate title cartouche in the upper right corner. Nicholas de la Cruz Bagay, a Tagalog Indian, engraved the original with Francisco Suarez, another indigenous Filipino. These men were some of the first Filipino engravers.

In 1593, Father Domingo de Nieva built the first printing press in the Philippines with help from a Chinese printer, Keng Yong. Many of the earliest printed works were prayer books and grammars; the first was a Spanish-Tagalog catechism, also in 1593. As with many colonies, the missionaries were the primary movers with regard to print technology. The first movable-type printing press came to the islands in 1606 as property of the Franciscans. However, there is no evidence of a printed work by them until 1655. The Jesuits set up their own press in 1610 and the Dominicans in 1618.

By the eighteenth century, Filipino presses were producing their own copper plate engravings. Francisco Suarez was a leader in this art. He typically signed his name on his engravings, implying that he understood them to be “artistic achievements”, as Buhain argues (12). Working alone and in tandem, many of the earliest printed maps and engravings from this period were done by Suarez and Bagay. In addition to the map, they contributed fifteen engravings to later editions of the bestselling Manga Panalanging Pagtatago Bilin sa Caloloua nang Tauong Naghihingalo (Prayers of the Dying), first published in 1705 and in its fifth edition by 1760. In 1737, Suarez drew the title page of La Razon de las Medidas y en el Mismo Hecho la Prueba, a book meant to respond to criticism of Manila traders by Mexican merchants.    

This map has been altered slightly—the vignettes that accompanied the original have been removed. It was reprinted by George Maurice Lowitz (1722-74), professor of mathematics. Lowitz was interested in astronomy and geography, his other works include a notes on eclipses in 1747 and a double hemisphere world map in 1762.

Lowitz dedicated the map to Ferdinand Valdes Tamon (1681-1741). He served as Governor-General in the Philippines. While in office, he negotiated treaties with Sulu and laid the corner stone of the Ayuntamiento building in Manila in 1738. It was an iconic building until it was destroyed in WWII.

Lowitz’s reduced version was made in 1750, according to the title, but published by the Homann map company in 1760. This dynasty was founded by Johann Baptist Homann (1664-1724) in 1702, when he started a map publishing firm. Johann Baptist’s son took over after his death and other heirs ran the company until 1848.

OCLC lists a 1778 printing of the map, but the 1760 is better known. Lowitz's map is the first reasonably obtainable large format map of the Philippines and it is an landmark in the history of Filipino cartography. It would make an important and substantial addition to any collection of Filipino or Jesuit mapping.

Full title:

Carte Hydrographique & Chorographique des Isles Philippines [ :Dédiée a Sa Majesté Catholique, par le Brigadier Don Ferdinand Valdes Tamon, Chevalier de l’ordre de St. Jaques, Gouverneur &Capitaine General des dites Isles :]

Dressée par la R. Père Pierre Murillo Velarde, de la C. de Gieusu sur les Cartes, les Relations et les Navigations les plus exactes a Manille 1734. Par ordre de San Majesté.

Tirée de l’Original, et réduite en cette forme par George Maurice Lowitz, Profess. en Mathem. a Nuremburg l’an 1750. Publiée par les Heritiers de Homann. l’an 1760.

[ : ‘Original est grave par Nicolas de la Cruz de Bagay, Indien de Tagalos, a Manille l’an 1734 :]


Le 10e Aout 1519. Hernando Magellan partit de Séville, et arriva le 15e Avril 1521 a Sebut, et fut massacre a Mactan. Michel Lopez de Legaspi lui succéda en 1565 et il fonda le 24e Juin 1571 la ville de Manille Capit. des Isles Philipp. Ainsi nommées en l’honneur du Roi Philippe II. Ces Isles sont en grand nombre et très fertiles. Elles fournissent de l’Or, de la Cite, du Sucre, du Miel, du Tabac, du gingembre de l’anis, du Sibucao ou Brésillet, et toutes sortes de Drogues a teindre, du Sagou, de la laine, du Cotton, du Cacao, de la cirette, de l’Ecaille, de l’aimant, du souffre, de la resine, du ris, du sel, du froment, du Bled, du Mays, des limons ou Citrons, du bois de Cayelac, toutes sortes de plantes, et quantité de fruits et de racines comestibles, du bois mairrain, des Tamarins, de la Casse, de la graine de Cathalogan, du sang de Dragon, du gayac, du bois de Sandal, du Manungal qui est meilleur que le Quinquina et plusieurs herbes médicinales, du Lin, qui est fort come du Chanvre, des Cocos, des Canes, des Jones, et plusieurs sortes de palmiers, de l’Ebene, du bois de Tindal, des pourceaux, de la charpente propre à construire des Vaisseaux, des Chevaux, des buffles, des Vaches, des pourceaux, de la Venaison, du gibier, et quantité de poissons à Mindanao il y a de la Canelle et du poivre. En quelques endroits on trouve aussi de petites et grosses perles, de l’ambre, du Tombac et du fer.

Ces Isles ont un Archevêque, et trous Evêques, une Chancellerie, trois Gouvernemens, 21 Provinces, 18 Présidiaux, une fonderie des pièces d’artill. des Imprimeries. Ceux de Clergé ont dans les 4 diocèses 142 etablissemens, contenant 131279 ames. Les Indiens sont de belle taille de bonne mine, de couleur baza née. Ils deviennent bons Ecrivains, Peintres, Sculpteurs, Forgerons, Orfèvres, Brodeurs et Mariniers. Le Culte Chrétien se fait en langue Espagnole, et en langue Tagale, et Sangleye ou Chinoise, en celle de Pampanga, d’Ylocos, de Pangasinan, de Cagayan, de Bisayas, de Camarines et autres langues.

Condition Description
Old Color. Two sheet map, joined, as issued. Expertly repaired area in blank ocean at centerfold, to the left of Mindoro Island.
Dominador D. Buhain, A History of Publishing in the Philippines (Quezon City: Rex Book Store, Inc., 1998), 12-3; Thomas Suarez, Early Mapping of Southeast Asia: The Epic Story of Seafarers, Adventurers, and Cartographers who First Mapped the Regions between China and India (North Clarendon: Tuttle Publishing, 2012), 247; M. Antoni J. Üçerler, S. J., “Missionary Printing” in The Book: A Global History, eds. Michael F. Suarez, S. J., and H. R. Woudhuysen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 112;
Homann Heirs Biography

Homann Heirs was a German publishing firm that enjoyed a major place in the European map market throughout the eighteenth century. Founded in 1702 by Johann Baptist Homann, the business passed to his son, Christoph, upon Johann’s death in 1724. Christoph died in 1730, aged only 27, and the firm was inherited by subsequent Homann heirs. This altered the name of the company, which was known as Homann Erben, or Homann heirs. The firm continued in business until 1848.