Jacobo Gastaldi1554

Kalakriti Archives

Kalakriti Archives
Hyderabad, India

One of the first maps to focus on the Indian Peninsula, by Giacomo Gastaldi, issued in Venice and based on Portuguese sources.

This attractive Venetian map is focused on Peninsular India, although its coverage extends from Sumatra to the Persian Gulf. It employs an ‘upside down’ southward-oriented perspective, which was not unusual during the 16th Century. The Indian Peninsula appears as a broad, evenly shaped triangle, somewhat stylized from reality, but still familiar to the modern viewer.

Predicated on Portuguese sources, India’s coastlines are labeled with ports that were then critical to Portuguese trade, including: ‘Cochin’ (Kochi), ‘Calicut’ (Kozhikode), ‘Cananor’ (Kannur), ‘Mangalor’ (Mangalore), ‘Goa’, ‘Chaul’ (then an important centre, but abandoned in the 18th Century), ‘Surati’ (Surat), ‘Cambaia’ (Khambhat), ‘Diu’ and ‘Negapatao’ (Nagapattinam).

Within the ocean, the images of ships represent Portuguese caravels and are labeled ‘Vado a Calicut’ (‘Route to Calicut’), symbolically representing the sea route between Europe and India, and ‘Vado alle Molucche’ (‘Route to the Moluccas’), representing the maritime passage to the Moluccas (the “Spice Islands”), in Indonesia. The labeling of the ‘Regno de Besinagar’ in the interior refers to the Vijayanagara Empire, a powerful Hindu kingdom that dominated much of southern India from 1336 to 1565.

During this period, the Portuguese were largely confined to their coastal factories and fortifications, and possessed a relatively limited understanding of the interior of India, such that one will notice that many areas in the Ganges Basin are placed way too far to the south of their true locations.


  • Title: India
  • Creator: Jacobo Gastaldi
  • Date Published: 1554
  • Location Created: Venice
  • Physical Dimensions: 29.2 x 42 cm
  • Type: Document
  • Medium: Woodcut map
  • Title (Original): Seconda Tavola
  • First Additional Creator's Lifetime: 1485/1557
  • First Additional Creator: Giovanni Battista Ramusio
  • Creator's Lifetime: 1500/1566

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