Malaya Peninsula ~ Royaume De Siam
Map of the Indochinese Peninsula and Malaya, to the northern coastline of Java and the eastern part of Borneo. Originally published in France in 1742, the cartographic detail on this map was groundbreaking. Its depiction of the region was by far the most accurate made to date filled with extensive soundings along coastlines and historical notations.
This historically important map of Southeast Asia was issued immediately prior to the Siamese Revolution of 1688, which henceforth restricted European activities in the kingdom. The present work is an important map of Southeast Asia, extending from the southern part of the Indochinese Peninsula through Malaya, to the northern coastline of Java and the eastern part of Borneo. The map is filled with information including extensive soundings along coastlines and historical notations. The adornment of the map with a large elephant, making up the title cartouche.
The cartographic detail on the map is groundbreaking, especially in the southern Siam part. Its depiction of the region was by far the most accurate made to date, and would remain so for over a century thereafter. At the time, Siam was experiencing the ‘golden age’ of the Ayutthaya Period (1351-1767). The capital city of Ayutthaya, located further up the Chao Praya River from modern Bangkok (noted on the map as ‘Fortresse de Bankok’), is thought to have been the world’s largest city at time, with over 1 million residents. Ayutthaya is noted on the map as “Judtija”, seemingly a phonetic interpretation of the true name.
Siam was first visited by Europeans in 1511, when Duarte Fernandes led a Portuguese embassy to Ayutthaya. While Siam was never formally colonised or claimed by a European power, as shown on the map, the French and Dutch had set up trading posts along the Chao Praya estuary.
The present map was a product of the collaboration between Jean-Baptiste Nolin (1657-1708), who was one of the official mapmakers to the King Louis XIV, and Vincenzo Maria Coronelli (1650-1715), a Venetian master who had been invited to Paris by the King to undertake cartographic projects, including the construction of the colossal ‘Marly Globes’.