1721 Senex map of the Indies, India, Japan, China and Korea

A New Map of India and China from the Latest Observations by I. Senex. - Main View

1721 Senex map of the Indies, India, Japan, China and Korea


Presenting the East to an English Audience.


A New Map of India and China from the Latest Observations by I. Senex.
  1721 (undated)     19.25 x 23 in (48.895 x 58.42 cm)     1 : 11000000


This is a scarce and elegant 1721 English map of Southeast Asia, the Far East, and the East Indies, drawn and engraved by John Senex. The map is dedicated to the British East Indian Company (EIC) and embraces its primary theaters of operation. At the time the EIC was the wealthiest company in the world and a dominant force in all British affairs, this making this map a subject of great interest to the British public.
A Closer Look
Following the convention of the prior century, the map encompasses all of what would have been termed 'The Indies': spanning from the mouth of the Indus River and the Maldives Islands in the west, to the Mariana Islands, and an expanse of islands east of the Philippines (the 'New Phillipin Isles') in the general location of, but bearing little resemblance to, the Caroline Islands. The map thus embraces the Spice Islands, the Malay Peninsula, China, Japan, and Korea. Afghanistan and much of Central Asia also appear.
The Latest Authorities
Senex's map represents the passage, to an English audience, of the state-of-the-art geographical knowledge of Guillaume De l'Isle, the preeminent mapmaker of Paris (and consequently of all Europe). Senex further includes islands mapped by the 17th-century maps of English geographer Robert Dudley and notes these additions prominently in order to give an English mapmaker pride of place. Although Senex refers in several places to the Portuguese geographer Texeira, the chief source for the map - De l'Isle - is nowhere credited.
An Exotic Cartouche
The map's title cartouche, in the tradition of the decorative maps of the 17th century, sets the tone with an assortment of images representing the sort of people to be found in the mapped area, and the treasures available to those bold enough to travel there. A putto rests in the foreground amongst maps, silks, elephant tusks, and China vases. A monkey sits eating fruit, oblivious to a prowling leopard. In the background, an elephant towers. Flanking the fruit-bedecked cartouche are a Chinese warrior and a Mogul - in poses presenting all to the reader.
East India Company
The map is dedicated to the 'Directors of the East India Company' (EIC) - a natural entity for Senex to so flatter. The EIC was founded in 1600 with a Royal Charter granting a monopoly over the lucrative trade with all lands east of the Cape of Good Hope and west of the Straights of Magellan. The Company was overseen by a governor and 24 Directors, referenced here in the dedication.

The EIC established and maintained trading bases across Asia, establishing its own colonies and taking over those of its rivals. Under Charles II, they began minting currency, received the right to govern territories autonomously, levy armies, make war, and exercise civil and criminal jurisdiction - making them a state-level actor. By the time this map was published, the EIC had overpowered or merged with all competition and was the largest and wealthiest company in the world.
Publication History and Census
This map was engraved by John Senex for inclusion in his New General Atlas, printed in London by the publisher Daniel Browne in 1721, with editions appearing as late as 1740. Despite being an atlas issue, this map is scarce with only eight examples cataloged separately in OCLC. Uncommon on the market.


Runtime error in mm5/5.00/modules/util/toolkit.mvc @ [00000020:00000a4e]: toolkit.mv: Line 8892: MvCALL: Unable to open URL 'https://www.geographicus.com/mm5/cartographers/senex.txt': Error establishing SSL connection: certificate verify failed