Goa street map

Unknown author; Reproduction of the Linschoten engraving1750

Museu do Oriente

Museu do Oriente
Lisboa, Portugal

The earliest Goa street map engraving that we have dates from 1595, thanks to a Dutchman, Jan Huygen van Linschoten (1563-1611). A pragmatic man, he left for Lisbon with the aim of making his fortune, for the same reason boarding a ship in spring 1583 to seek favour with the Dominican Friar Vicente da Fonseca, appointed by Filipe I (r. 1581-1598) as Archbishop of Goa. In his Itinerário, the Dutchman admits this was no difficult task, and that before arriving in the city of Mandovi he was already in the service of the prelate. As Friar Vincente’s manservant, he became his secretary and bookkeeper. It was his proximity to one of Goa's most influential and powerful figures while living there that enabled Linschoten to collect all kinds of cartographic material, itineraries charts and nautical briefings, as well as secret (or at least restricted) documents, in order to write the account that still today is a fundamental source for understanding the Portuguese presence in Asia (even if he himself used texts of Portuguese origin for the description of the places he was yet to visit) and that he supplemented with a series of 39 engravings and maps (these also largely based on Portuguese originals).
One of the reasons why the information contained in this map is so valuable and interesting is because it reproduces documents by Bartolomeu Lasso, which have since disappeared. Published in Amsterdam in 1596, the Itinerário became a reference work, being quickly translated into English (1598), German (1598-1600), Latin (1599) and French (1610), seeing multiple editions and the publication of excerpts in compendiums and popular or more comprehensive travel accounts of the European discoveries. This Parisian reproduction of Linschoten's original map was added to one of those more comprehensive titles (Histoire générale des voyages, ou nouvelle collection de toutes les relations de voyages par terre et par mer, Paris, Chez Didot) which sought to provide a "history of accounts of voyages by land and sea". It omitted the original Latin and Dutch captions, the map’s title and the dedication to the Cardinal-Archduke and Viceroy of Portugal, Albert of Austria. It also leaves out the symmetrical cartouches depicting the figure of St Catarina, the coat of arms showing the wheel on which she was tortured and the coat of arms of Portugal.
The map’s caption, translated from the original, is similarly positioned and roughly the same size as in the Linschoten map, although the cartouche is different. A number of buildings and places are identified, some with the wrong name (such as Marché de Saint François [No. 12] for São Francisco, where the convent stood) or completely wrong (such as the Marché au Poisson [No. 7] translated as the Bazar Grande), which attests to the map’s merely "decorative" inclusion in the publication. This specimen, the original of which is a map by Jacques Nicholas Bellin, hydrographic engineer under Louis XV of France, highlights the kinds of the issues relevant to the representation of urban iconography that have been pertinent to travel writings from its early days.
Carla Alferes Pinto in the catalogue Presença Portuguesa na Ásia, Museu do Oriente, 2008, p. 27-28


  • Title: Goa street map
  • Creator: Unknown author; Reproduction of the Linschoten engraving
  • Date Created: 1750
  • Location: Paris
  • Physical Dimensions: 21,8 x 36,5 cm
  • Type: Engraving
  • Rights: Fundação Oriente - Museu do Oriente
  • External Link: http://www.museudooriente.pt/
  • Medium: watercoloured engraving on paper
  • Photographer: Image by Google

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