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1686 Mallet Map of Ceylon or Sri Lanka (Taprobane)

Ancienne Isle Taprobane. Die alte Insel Tabrobane. - Main View

1686 Mallet Map of Ceylon or Sri Lanka (Taprobane)



Ancienne Isle Taprobane. Die alte Insel Tabrobane.
  1686 (undated)     7 x 5 in (17.78 x 12.7 cm)


A beautiful miniature 1683 map of Ceylon, Sri Lanka, or Taprobane by Alain Mallet. This stunning little map covers the island of Ceylon as well as parts of adjacent India. Mallet first introduced this map in the 1683 though it was republished several time in the subsequent 20 years. Taprobane is an ancient name for a spice rich trading center that was well known in ancient Roman times. By the 17th century Portugese explorerers had reopened the route to the Indies but were uncertain exactly which island the Roman's were referring to. Some map Taprobrane as Sumatra, other as Ceylon. The common consensus now, as in Mallet's time, is that the Roman Taprobane is Ceylon. Published by copper plate in the 1686 Frankfurt edition of Mallet's Description de l'Univers.


Alain Manesson Mallet (1630-1706) was a French cartographer, grammarian, engineer and mathematician, active in the mid to late 17th century. Despite being born in France, as a young man Mallet joined the Portuguese - yes Portuguese - army where he served as a Sergeant-Major. Later he was able to levy his war experience into a career as Inspector of Fortifications for Louis XIV of France. It was in this position, where his work entailed examining and sketching various fortresses, that Mallet developed his cartographic interests. His most important work is his monumental five volume opus Description de L'Univers, published in 1683. This impressive work described the cultures, governments, lands, and customs of all the known peoples of the earth and included numerous maps and engravings. At the time, the Description was the largest and most comprehensive work of its kind ever published. A year later, in 1684, he published his 3 volume Les Travaux de Mars ou l'Art de la Guerre. Mallet is also known for his invention of the "dumpy bubble", a telescopic sight incorporating a level bubble used for surveying and astronomical observations. More by this mapmaker...


Mallet, A., Description de l'Univers, (Frankfurt), 1686.    


Very good. Original platemark. Blank on verso. Wide clean margins.