top of page



The island Java with an insert of the harbour, fort and town of Batavia; Insulae Iavae pars occidentalis edente Hadriano Relando. T’ Amsterdam by Gerard van Keulen aan de Nieuwe brug met privilegie.

From: Gerard van Keulen, De Nieuwe Groote Ligtende Zee-fakkel, part five, Amsterdam 1734

Copperplate engraving on paper, in two parts, hand-coloured, 51 x 144 cm


Cartographic material drawn by captains, upon their return was coordinated by the VOC’s mapmakers in Amsterdam where the manuscript maps of Java were drawn, among others by Adriaan Reland, later to be printed by Gerard van Keulen (1678-1726).

The VOC kept strict control over their manuscript maps and the captains of the fleets had to return the maps with corrections and additions to the map makers. The maps, particularly of the East Indies, were classified material and only with part six of De Nieuwe Groote Ligtende Zee-fakkel in 1753, edited by Gerard’s son Johannes II van Keulen (1704- 1755), the embargo on map material of the East Indies was officially lifted by the VOC and maps of the East Indies allowed to be printed and distributed.

Adriaan Reland was a famous orientalist scholar, cartographer and philologist. At the age of eleven, he studied Latin in Amsterdam and enrolled at the University of Utrecht at the age of 17 to study theology and philosophy.

Initially, he studied Hebrew and Syriac and later Arabic as well. In 1699 Reland was appointed Professor of Physics and Metaphysics in Harderwijk. By this time he had achieved fluency in Arabic, Hebrew and other Semitic languages and at the age of 25, he was appointed Professor of oriental languages at the University of Utrecht. Reland gained renown for his research in Islamic studies and linguistics, his work is an early example of comparative linguistics. Additionally, he studied Persian and was interested in the relationship between Eastern myths and the Old Testament. Through compiling Arabic texts Reland completed De religione mohammedica libri duo in 1705. This work, extended in 1717, was considered the first objective survey of Islamic beliefs and practices. It quickly became a reference work throughout Europe and was translated in Dutch, English, German, French and Spanish.

Reland also was a cartographer, particularly making maps of Palestine and the Middle East but also of South and South East Asia. Because these last maps were classified material they were only published long after Reland’s untimely death in 1718 at the age of 41 due to smallpox.

bottom of page