A Medieval English Description of Java

Fig. 1 — The location of Java, indicated on a map of Afro-Eurasia (+Australia). Its size belies its significance.
Fig. 2 — Java, or ‘Lytil Jaua’, in the “Boke of Idrography” (c.1535–1542) by the French cartographer Jean Rotz. This is a south-up map, and the southern extent of Java, covered by trees and mountains, is grossly out of proportion to its actual size. See Figure 3 for comparison. London, British Library, Royal MS 20 E IX, f.9v.

John Mandeville

Fig. 3 — John Mandeville — here “Johñ Mãundeuylle” — in a fifteenth-century English translation of Mandeville’s book. London, British Library, Harley MS 3954, f.1r.
Fig. 4 — The images in Harley MS 3954 aren’t quite at the same level as those in London, British Library, Additional MS 24189, a version of the Mandeville travels produced in Bohemia in the early fifteenth century. Only the illustrations survive from this manuscript, which was based on the Czech translation by Vavřinec of Březová, written c. 1410 (according to the BL website). Yes: there was also a medieval description of Java in Czech (and Irish, and…).

Odoric of Pordenone

Fig. 5 — The Great King of Java and his seven vassals in a(n unfortunately badly damaged) manuscript containing a copy of Odoric’s “Relatio”. London, British Library, Cotton MS Otho D II, f.67v.

Harley MS 3954

Fig. 6 — London, British Library, Harley MS 3954, f.38v.
Fig. 6— The gap in the manuscript where an illustration of the ‘rich palace’ was supposed to go.

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Posting about ancient and medieval Indonesia, up to ~1500 CE. Mainly into 14th & 15th century stuff, but earlier is fine too.

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Medieval Indonesia

Medieval Indonesia

Posting about ancient and medieval Indonesia, up to ~1500 CE. Mainly into 14th & 15th century stuff, but earlier is fine too.

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