[Vidéo] Japan and East Asia in the earliest nautical chart with isogonic lines (drawn between 1572-1592, attributed to Luís Teixeira)

Vera Dorofeeva-Lichtman (CRJ-CCJ) a donné une présentation sur la représentation du Japon dans la cartographie portugaise dans le cadre du 3rd International Nautical Charts Workshop, le 6 octobre 2021 (Day 1, Session 2). 

Vous pouvez regarder cette intervention sur la chaine Youtube « Medea-Chart Project » à l’adresse suivante : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eg3vdNczqbI 

Recent study of the earliest known nautical chart with isogonic lines by Joaquim Alves Gaspar and Henrique Leitão (Imago Mundi, 2018) called new attention to this illuminated manuscript on vellum. The survived piece (57,2 x 79,8 cm) showing the Pacific is believed to be part of a planisphere. It was acquired in 1954 by the Maritime Museum (Lisbon) in a regretfully poor state.

The fragment neither bears the name of its author, nor a date, but the authorship was established by Armando Cortesão and Avelino Teixeira da Mota, who attributed the chart to Luís Teixeira, according to the following features characteristic of surviving manuscript maps by this cartographer: his outstanding handwriting, the way to depict the wind-roses and the chart’s frame, and also an image of a ship found in the chart (Portugaliae Monumenta Cartographica, 1960, vol. III, pp. 71-72). Cortesão and Mota approximated the date of its creation between 1572 and 1592. These conclusions are shared by Gaspar and Leitão.

The latest possible date is determined by the time of creation by Luís Teixeira of a map of Japan with a radically different configuration published by Abraham Ortelius in 1595. According to his letter, Teixeira sent the map to Ortelius on the 20th of February 1592 (Hessels 1887, letter n° 210), so that it was created shortly before the early 1592. In the chart in question Japan still has a different outline, the so-called Vaz Dourado shape of Japan.

In the proposed presentation I would like to expose some additional observations on the depiction of Japan and the East Asian coast in the chart. In particular, in the chart Japan has a slightly different shape from that known from the atlases drawn by Fernão Vaz Dourado between 1568 and 1580, and its earliest occurrence in the atlas by Lazaro Luis (1563): the largest of the three islands constituting the Japanese archipelago is slightly ‘tilted’ to the north-west. The same ‘tilt’ is found in the map of South-East Asia (engraved in 1595) from the Itinerario… describing the travels of Jan Huygen van Linschoten in 1579-1592, published in 1596 in Amsterdam. This map, in its turn, relies on the map of the South-East Asia from the manuscript atlas by Bartolomeu Lasso (1590). This and some other affinities provide additional arguments in favour of the supposition of Cortesão and Mota that the chart “was made for a foreign country, perhaps the Netherlands”, as well as allowing one to date the chart closer to 1592.

Le programme du Workshop est disponible à l’adresse suivante : https://www.portmeeting.org

NOTA : à la suite de cette intervention, la date de la carte a été corrigée en “1583-1589”.

Yasuko D'Hulst

Ingénieure d'études, Chargée de valorisation scientifique

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Yasuko D'Hulst

Ingénieure d'études, Chargée de valorisation scientifique

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