VISSCHER, Nicholas Janszen (1618-1679). Insula Ceilon olim Taprobana Incolis Tenarisin et Lankawn. Amsterdam: Frederick De Wit, c. 1705.

$ 1,800.00

Single sheet, (21 x 24 ½ inches; 19 ½ x 23 1/8 inches to the neat line; full margins showing the plate mark). Fine engraved map of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), surrounded by a border of yellow wash with original hand color in full, the individual territories shown in different bold watercolors of yellow, green, and pink, the title within a STUNNING HISTORIATED CARTOUCHE HEIGHTENED IN LIQUID GOLD, with north oriented to the right, decorated with a fine compass rose pointing north with a GOLD-ENHANCED FLEUR-DE-LIS (old central fold, slightly toned).

Very fine engraved map of Sri Lanka, emphasizing Dutch interest in the island and embellished with LIQUID GOLD. The elaborate title cartouche depicts three Ceylonese figures with an elephant and palm tree, and the colorist has added a lovely marble effect to the title placard. Topographical features are beautifully illustrated, with Adam's Peak prominently shown near the center of the island. Adams Brugh, also known as Adam's Bridge or Rama's Bridge, links Mannar Island (off the coast of Sri Lanka) with Rameswaram Island (off the coast of India). Small Dutch flags dot the coastal cities, as well as a few interior settlements, to emphasize the Netherlands' recent takeover of the island from the Portuguese. The capital city of Kandy (here, "Candy") is indicated with a drop of LIQUID GOLD and colored red. Other regions and provinces include: Kadawatha ("Cadduwata"); "Caneel Landen" (Cinnamon Lands); Mangul Korale ("Mangul Corla"); Wanni Region ("Landschap Wanny"); and "Alhier syn veel olifanten" ("Here there are many elephants").

"The King of Kandy Rajasingha II (1629-1687), eager to oust the Portuguese from Maritime Sri Lanka, entered into an alliance with the Dutch East India Company and signed a treaty in 1638. According to the terms agreed upon, the Dutch were to expel the Portuguese, in exchange for which they were to be awarded exclusive trade concessions including the lucrative cinnamon trade. After 22 years of fierce struggle the Dutch finally drove the last of the Portuguese forces out of Sri Lanka in 1658 and considered themselves masters of the territorial possessions wrought from the Portuguese. The Company held these territories against the will of the King of Kandy, and administered them until its capitulation to the English in 1796. The Kingdom of Kandy, despite its small size, of its territory, resisted Dutch incursions. It was the Dutch intention to force it into a state of dependence by encircling it in a land-locked territory. The Kingdom of Kandy was the only indigenous state of the Island, and so could concentrate all its power on fighting the Dutch occupation. Consequently they were in almost continuous conflict with each other on territorial issues, such as the ownership of frontier villages, access to sea ports, the right to harvest cinnamon in hinterland woods and gather the arecanuts that grew wild, and the capture of elephants in the open jungle.

"By measuring and surveying the coastlines with unprecedented accuracy in 1659, barely a year after the conquest of the Portuguese possessions, the Dutch produced a map of Sri Lanka much different from those that had hitherto been known. The pear-shaped, almost modern outline arrived at by the Dutch surveyors revealed for the first time in the history of the mapping of Sri Lanka a totally new geographical conception of the Island. It not only made a conspicuous contrast with the rigid pentagonal shape devised by Cipriano Sanchez Vilavicencio, but also differentiated itself very clearly from other forms of representations so common in the Luso-Hispanic cartographical tradition of the time. By producing this map, the Dutch Administration inaugurated a new era in mapping and surveying of Sri Lanka in keeping with modern style.

"Compared with the rather meager number of maps and plans produced during the 150 years of the Portuguese occupation of Maritime Sri Lanka, the Dutch body of cartographic material on the Island is remarkably prodigious and it greatly improved upon the Portuguese knowledge of Sri Lanka. It was these maps that the Dutch colonial government relied upon in their day-to-day exercise of administration" (Ananda Abeydeera, "Mapping as a Vital Element of Administration in the Dutch Colonial Government of Maritime Sri Lanka, 1658-1796).