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The First Map of an Indonesian Island Based Upon Actual Observations

Nice example of Giovanni Battista Ramusio's important engraved early map of Sumatra, from his Delle Navigation e Viaggi.

Sumatra, here mistakenly called 'Taprobana'. The map was created to illustrate Ramusio's account of the voyage of the Parmentier Brothers, Frenchmen who ran the Portuguese blockade of the East Indies and landed on the Sumatran port of Ticon. Both brothers died of fever and the trade was not too successful, dissuading the French from sending further expeditions. However their findings are included here, making this the first map of any island in South East Asia to be based on actual observation.

Curiously, the map makes no attempt to illustrate the neighboring regions on the Malay Peninsula or Java.

A fire in the Ramusio print shop in November 1557, destroyed the woodblock that produced the original map, shortly after Ramusio's death. As a result, few examples were printed before the destruction of the woodblock. In 1565, a copperplate edition of the map replaced the original woodblock, and that is the edition offered here.

Karrow, R.W. (16 c.) 30/74.
Giovanni Battista Ramusio Biography

Giovanni Battista Ramusio (1485-1557) was an Italian geographer who worked within the Venetian Empire. His father had been a magistrate and he himself served as a civil servant to Venice. He served throughout Europe, allowing him to build up a network of informants and a collection of travel materials. He compiled this information into his enduring masterpiece, Navigationi et Viaggi, in 1555 (first volume) and 1556 (third volume). The second volume appeared after his death in 1559, as the original manuscript had been destroyed by a fire.