1727 Valentijn Map of Malaysia and Sumatra (Singapore)

Nieuwe Kaart van het Eyland Sumatra verbeterd door Francois Valentyn. - Main View

1727 Valentijn Map of Malaysia and Sumatra (Singapore)


One of the earliest sophisticated maps of Malaya.


Nieuwe Kaart van het Eyland Sumatra verbeterd door Francois Valentyn.
  1726 (undated)     20.5 x 24.5 in (52.07 x 62.23 cm)     1 : 3000000


This is a handsome example of Francois Valentijn's 1726 map of Malaya (Malaysia and Singapore) and Sumatra. It is significant as the first map to significantly detail the interior, as well as the indigenous policies of Malaya. The publication is based upon Valentijn's first-hand experience and emerged just as the VOC was beginning to loosen its stranglehold on cartographic knowledge of the East Indies.
A Closer Look
Oriented to the east, Valentijn's map covers from the Island of Junsalan (Penang / Prince of Wales Island / Pulu Pinang) south as far as the Straits of Sunda and west to Atsjien (Banda Aceh) at the western tip of Sumatra. It extends eastwards to the Anambas Islands and the Bangka-Belitung Islands. The cartographer identifies various polities as well as numerous coastal settlements and cities. Topography is rendered in profile and limited submarine detail is presented in the Strait of Malacca.
Historical Context
Valentijn's map is the first published to present a sophisticated treatment of Malaya and Sumatra, and the model upon which most subsequent maps were based through the late 18th century. This is one of the earliest maps to expound upon the indigenous polities of Malaya. Valentijn identifies seven separate kingdoms within the peninsula. The presentation thus represents a major change in Malayan politics following the 1606 Dutch capture of Portuguese Malacca. The Dutch forged a peaceful arrangement with the Sultan of Johor, leading to a time of general peace and prosperity. This prosperity, combined with the decline of the Sunnite of Aceh in northern Sumatra, allowed for the rapid development and expansion of smaller polities throughout the peninsula. These include Johor, Perak, Pahang, Patani, Kedah, and Ligor - the latter two of which, as noted on the map, fell under the sway of Siam. Valentijn moreover, has recorded some eighty place names in Malaya alone, and far more in Sumatra, exceeding in detail any predecessor map.
Publication History
This map was issued in Amsterdam in Francois Valentijn's 1726 Oud en nieuw Oost-Indien. It was published by Joannes van Braam and Gerard onder de Linden, whose names appear on the imprint. We note four examples cataloged in OCLC: Library of Congress, the Bibliotheek Universiteit van Amsterdam, the Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden, and the Universiteitsbibliotheek Utrecht.


Francois Valentijn (April 17, 1666 - August 6, 1727) was a Dutch minister, naturalist, colonial administrator, and historian active in Holland and the East Indies, in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Valentijn was born in Dordrecht, Holland and studied at the Universities and Leiden and Utrecht before, in 1685, taking a position with the Dutch East India Company (VOC). He remained in the East Indies for about 10 years before returning to Dordrecht. Unable to adjust to life in Europe, he returned to the East Indies in 1705 where he remained for another 9 years. After 19 total years in the Orient working for the VOC, Valentijn once again returned to Holland where he composed his eight volume five part masterwork Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indien. The scope and detail of this work, including over 1000 engraved images and numerous maps was unprecedented with regards to Asia. The work contained some of the finest and most detailed large scale maps of the East Indies ever published. The most important of these focus on Taiwan and Malaya. Valentijn most likely drew on secret VOC manuscript maps and documents, a fact that makes it exceptionally surprising that his works were actually published. Valentijn academic scholarship, in sharp contrast to his cartographic work, is often highly criticized as being self-aggrandizing and, more often than not, plagiarized. More by this mapmaker...


Valentijn, F., Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indien, (Dordrecht: J. van Braam) 1726.    


Very good. Crisp, dark, impression suggestive of an early strike off the plate. Some offsetting visible. Original platemark visible. Left margin reinstated at insertion point.


Curtis, R. and Durand, Fr., Maps of Malaysia and Borneo: Discovery, Statehood and Progress, pages 49-50, no. 38. OCLC 871359842.