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An Indian World Map

[Indian world map]
Publication place
[Northern India, perhaps Varanasi,
Publication date
588 by 1023mm (23.25 by 40.25 inches).


Map drawn in ink and watercolour on paper, backed on cloth.


A large and beautifully decorated map providing an unusual example of Indian geographical illustration. The world is shown on a double hemispheric projection, with the eastern hemisphere centred on India. From the arrangement of borders and states (even allowing for a slightly inaccurate rendition), it must be related to an early nineteenth century map. There are marked similarities with "A New Map of the World" published by Laurie and Whittle in 1808, although there are variations in the borders within the Indian subcontinent.

The pink areas within India represent East India Company territories, with the yellow area showing the remaining independent powers on the subcontinent, including the Maratha and Sikh empires. The borders suggest a date for the map sometime between the Second and Third Anglo-Maratha wars, between 1805 and 1819. The divisions of other continents into countries or empires are somewhat more fanciful and little reliance can be placed upon them in terms of dating. For example, Alaska is treated as part of Canada.

Each hemisphere is surrounded by a decorative border scroll of white leaves and flowers (with touches of pink) on black that seems European in inspiration and are separated by stylised leaf designs. The upper design has the inscription in Persian "kurre-ye zamin", or "the globe", while "qotb-e shomal", "the North Pole", is inscribed above the western hemisphere on the Arctic.

Although this map draws on a British source, contemporary Indian cartography also used the double hemispheric projection for both terrestrial and celestial maps. Cimino records a double hemisphere painted map, possibly from Jaipur. The Benarasi school of cartography also produced double hemispheric maps influenced by western models (Losty).

Indian maps of this age are rare; the climate was not conducive to their survival.


From the collection of Stuart Cary Welch (1928-2008), scholar, curator and collector. Cary Welch amassed one of the world's leading collections of Indian and Islamic art.


Rosa Maria Cimino, Life at Court in Rajasthan, Firenze, 1985, no. 13; J.P. Losty, The Art of the Book in India, London, 1982, no. 140.