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1732 D'Anville Map of Central Africa: Congo, Angola, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia

L'Ethiopie Occidentale. - Main View

1732 D'Anville Map of Central Africa: Congo, Angola, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia


Scarce map of South Central Africa.


L'Ethiopie Occidentale.
  1753 (dated)     11.5 x 15.5 in (29.21 x 39.37 cm)     1 : 97000


Scarce map of the Congo, Angola, central Africa, and Monomotapa (Zimbabwe / Malawi) issued in 1732 by Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville. D'Anville's map covers the west coast of Africa roughly from Sao Tome and the Gabon River southwards as far as Gulfo Frio and the Desert de Baso (modern day Namibia), and westwards to the pacific at the mouth of the Zambezi River. This map is exceptionally interesting as it displays, at once, Portuguese activity and discoveries on both sides of Africa: in Angola and the Congo in the west, and in the kingdoms of Monomotapa, Manica, and Sofala on the eastern shores,.

Both the Congo and Monomotapa (and the neighboring kingdoms) are relatively well mapped with numerous indigenous groups, trading centers, and river systems identified, however the Portuguese relationship with both regions could not be more different. The Portuguese discovered the Congo first, and though ostensibly on equal terms with the Congolese Kings, in fact treated the region as a subject kingdom and as a source for African Slaves. On the opposite side of the continent, on the other hand, the kingdoms of Monomotapa, while tentatively holding allegiance to the Portuguese King, were in fact largely equal trading partners, supplying Portuguese merchants with gold, ivory, and other treasures from the interior.

The vast unexplored territories between these two lands are however particularly striking - most of which D'Anville has filled with copious textual annotation lamenting his lack of reliable reconnaissance. Lake Malawi, here identified as Lake Maravi, is however beautifully mapped extending an unknown distance northwards. Though not formally discovered until 1846, it is one of the few superb examples of indigenous geographic knowledge being successfully translated into accurate cartographic content without direct European observation.

Perhaps this map's general scarcity is derived from the fact that by the 1730s Europe had little interest in this region. The slave trade by this time had largely shifted to other centers and was being funneled to the Americas by independent English and American traders. In Monomotapa, the Portuguese discovered the perceived gold wealth of the interior was in fact very limited and maintained only a token presence on the Zambezi. Like most of D'Anville's work this map was in independent issue and included with numerous composite and made-to-order atlases throughout the 18th century. Perhaps, with interest in central Africa at a low ebb, D'Anville customers just weren't buying this map?


Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville (1697 - 1782) was perhaps the most important and prolific cartographer of the 18th century. D'Anville's passion for cartography manifested during his school years when he amused himself by composing maps for Latin texts. There is a preserved manuscript dating to 1712, Graecia Vetus, which may be his earliest surviving map - he was only 15 when he drew it. He would retain an interest in the cartography of antiquity throughout his long career and published numerous atlases to focusing on the ancient world. At twenty-two D'Anville, sponsored by the Duke of Orleans, was appointed Geographer to the King of France. As both a cartographer and a geographer, he instituted a reform in the general practice of cartography. Unlike most period cartographers, D'Anville did not rely exclusively on earlier maps to inform his work, rather he based his maps on intense study and research. His maps were thus the most accurate and comprehensive of his period - truly the first modern maps. Thomas Basset and Philip Porter write: "It was because of D'Anville's resolve to depict only those features which could be proven to be true that his maps are often said to represent a scientific reformation in cartography." (The Journal of African History, Vol. 32, No. 3 (1991), pp. 367-413). In 1754, when D'Anville turned 57 and had reached the height of his career, he was elected to the Academie des Inscriptions. Later, at 76, following the death of Philippe Buache, D'Anville was appointed to both of the coveted positions Buache held: Premier Geographe du Roi, and Adjoint-Geographer of the Academie des Sciences. During his long career D'Anville published some 211 maps as well as 78 treatises on geography. D'Anville's vast reference library, consisting of over 9000 volumes, was acquired by the French government in 1779 and became the basis of the Depot Geographique - though D'Anville retained physical possession his death in 1782. Remarkably almost all of D'Anville's maps were produced by his own hand. His published maps, most of which were engraved by Guillaume de la Haye, are known to be near exact reproductions of D'Anville' manuscripts. The borders as well as the decorative cartouche work present on many of his maps were produced by his brother Hubert-Francois Bourguignon Gravelot. The work of D'Anville thus marked a transitional point in the history of cartography and opened the way to the maps of English cartographers Cary, Thomson and Pinkerton in the early 19th century. More by this mapmaker...


Very good. Platemark visible. Blank on verso.


Afriterra, 1023.