The first separate map of any Southeast Asia island based on actual observation” (Suarez)

By RAMUSIO, Giovanni Battista; and GASTALDI, Giacomo, 1556 

[Untitled map of Sumatra]

Asia Southeast Asia
  • Author: RAMUSIO, Giovanni Battista; and GASTALDI, Giacomo
  • Publication place: [Venice
  • Publisher: stamperia dei Giunta
  • Publication date: from 1556].
  • Physical description: Woodcut map.
  • Dimensions: 320 by 410mm. (12.5 by 16.25 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 17584


Gastaldi’s map of the Sumatra, also named Taprobana on the map, oriented with south at the top. Published in the third volume of Ramusio’s compendium of voyages, Delle Navigationi et Viaggi’, from 1556. With printed page numbers corrected to 433” and 434” (from 430” and 434”) appearing in the top left and top right-hand corners of the map, respectively.
The first separate map of any Southeast Asia island based on actual observation” (Suarez). Based on reports of the voyage of the Parmentier brothers, Jean and Raoul, who both died of fever there in 1529. The general contour of the island is remarkably good for its day, and the various islands lying off its western coast are shown in detail, as is Banca on the eastern coast. The port where the Parmentier brothers anchored, Ticon, is recorded, and the manner in which the island’s coast forms a promontory just to the northwest of Ticon is accurately mapped. Ramusio has also corrected the erroneous placement of Aceh from his general map of Southeast Asia of two years earlier” (Suarez page 157).
Ramusio’s Delle Navigationi et Viaggi’ was first published in three volumes between 1550 and 1559, and followed by various subsequent editions, all of which had additions made to them. This is one of the earliest and most important collections of voyages and travels and may be said to have opened a new era in the literary history of voyages and navigation. This work… was the first great systematic collection that had so far appeared” (Hill 1418). A fourth volume was planned but was never published. The preface to the third edition of the first volume (1563), and the introduction to the account of Peru in the third volume, both contain references to this proposed volume.


  1. Suarez, Early Mapping of Southeast Asia, page 157, fig. 77