Maps and Drawings

6. Maps and Drawings in Asia and South Africa

aps which were produced or administered in former VOC establishments in Asia and South Africa have, in principle, been preserved in those places themselves. However, a great deal has been lost. Largest collections of maps were those of the VOC administrations in the Cape of Good Hope and Ceylon(98). In Colombo, for instance, an important part of the administration of land has been preserved in both written and cartographic form(99).

Fort Jaffanapatman (modern-day Jaffna at Sri Lanka)
(click image to enlarge)

The most important collection was naturally that formed in Batavia. In 1811 T.S. Raffles appointed a commission whose task it was to make 'a general record and collection of all archives, official documents, maps and plans, which had pertained to the various departments and offices under the former French government'. Amongst other things this commission produced 'registers of maps and plans, which had belonged to the Department of Engineering, under the former French Government' (ca. 1812) (100). Probably all the maps and drawings then available in Batavia were described in the registers mentioned: Daendels had followed the example of the Batavian Depot-Generaal and assembled all the maps and drawings made by the military engineers. Nonetheless, the same Daendels also gave orders to destroy old papers which had no value. This undoubtedly had enormous consequences for the maps and drawings.

Those which escaped destruction were described by the government archivist, F. de Haan. In his catalogue, in which more than 1100 maps and drawings from the middle of the seventeenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century are described (the number of sheets from the VOC period is much less than 1100), there are no sheets referring to the areas outside Indonesia(101). This collection is now in the Arsip Nasional Republik Indonesia (ANRI) in Jakarta. A small number of VOC maps and drawings kept in the Arsip Nasional has been photographed and can also be consulted in the National Archives of the Netherlands in the Netherlands.

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