Frontispiece, Hortus Indicus Malabaricus, Volume 1 (of 12), Publishers Joannis Someren and Joannis van Dyck. Amsterdam, 1678.The most extensive study of the medical botanical resources of Asia published in Europe before the 19th century is the celebrated pre-Linnaean work (before 1753), Hortus Indicus Malabaricus, compiled in India by the Dutch governor of Malabar, Henrik Adrian van Rheede, published in Amsterdam from 1678 to 1693. The volumes record medicinal properties of 742 South Indian plants, with 792 copperplate illustrations. This monumental project was driven by Van Rheede's first hand experience with the rich botanical knowledge systems of Malabar, and the need for new medicines by the Dutch colonists in Asia. The work set the standard for many other European works on Asian botany in to the 19th century. The image shows a woman representing Botany seated on a pedestal with dark skinned children offering potted plants to her, a theme subsequently used in other European books on Asian Botany. Hendrik Adriaan van Rheede left detailed account of how such extensive information on Malabar medicinal plant knowledge was gathered and recorded by the Dutch. "A broad committee had been brought together from various parts of Malabar" with help from Veera Kerala Varma, Raja of Cochin. The volumes are unique for identifying and honoring the Indian scholars and collectors, as "Experts in plants to whose care it was entrusted to collect for us finally from everywhere the plants with the leaves, flowers and fruits for which they even climbed the highest tops of trees."


  • Title: Frontispiece, Hortus Indicus Malabaricus, Volume 1 (of 12)
  • Date Created: circa 1678-1693
  • Physical Dimensions: 7.5X5 in.
  • Subject Keywords: Dr. Anna Spudich, India Spice Trade
  • Type: Engraving
  • Original Source: Blatter Herbarium Library, Mumbai.
  • Rights: Blatter Herbarium Library, Mumbai.
  • Medium: Copperplate engraving
  • Bibliography: Publishers Joannis Someren and Joannis van Dyck. Amsterdam, 1678. Hortus Indicus Malabaricus, Volume 1, Amsterdam, 1678, Blatter Herbarium Library, Mumbai.

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