Today we are featuring some maps of Southeast Asia, recently added to our inventory and our website. While the political divisions and nomenclature for this group of islands and mainland territories has changed over the years, they have always piqued the interest of explorers, merchants, and travelers. Trade and colonization of the area prompted many cartographers to record both the key ports and sailing channels, most notably the Strait of Malacca. The strategic value of the Strait of Malacca, which was controlled by Sultanate of Malacca in the 15th and early 16th century, did not go unnoticed by Portuguese writer Duarte Barbosa, who in 1500 wrote “He who is lord of Malacca has his hand on the throat of Venice”.
In the 16th and 17th century, the establishment of the Dutch East Indies, French Indochina, and British Strait Settlements brought western merchants sailing to the area from both the east and west. Regular trade between the ships sailing east from the Indian Ocean and south from mainland Asia provided goods in return for natural products, such as honey and hornbill beaks from the islands of the archipelago.
Below are maps of the region, which date from 1688 to 1871. They can also be viewed and purchased on our website, along with our other maps of Asia, here.
Accuratissima totius Asiae Tabula Recens Emendata. By Frederick de Wit. Published by Abraham Wolfgang, Amsterdam. Copper plate engraving, c.1688. A detailed map of Asia and the Middle East. Surrounding the Cartouche is an image of merchants with their goods, possibly merchants of the silk road. This map was issued in Wolfgang’s “Atlas Minor” which is a compilation of maps originally issued by Blaeu, de Wit, Visscher and others.
Les Indes Orientales et Leur Archipel. By Rigobert Bonne. Published Chez Lattre, Paris. Copper engraving, hand colored, c. 1780. A handsome, clearly drawn map reaching from Pakistan and India to New Guinea, including the Philippines and the southern tip of Formosa.
Partie de la Mer du Sud Comprise Entre les Philippines et la Californie. By Jean Francois Galoup La Perouse. Published by La Perouse. Copper engraving, black and white, 1797. Two-part map of the Pacific Ocean by La Perouse, Atlas map no. 67. This map extends from Korea, Japan and the Philippines to Monterey, California.
Carte des Indes & de la Chine. By Guillaume Del’Isle. Published by Covens and Mortier, Amsterdam. Copper engraving; original outline color, c. 1730. Del’Isle’s map of eastern Asia extends from India across China to Japan and includes the East Indies and Philippines.
Das Sudostliche Asien oder China, Japan und Hinter-Indien mit den Indischen Archipelagus. Published by Geographic Institute, Weimar. Engraving; original color outline, 1871. Detailed map of China, Japan and the East Indies shows European colonial influences through a color key.
Oceanie ou Cinquieme Partie du Monde. By H. Brue. Copper engraving; original color outline, 1816.