Eredia’s Description of Malacca
Reprint 14
Eredia’s Description of Malacca
By J.V. Mills
New introduction by Cheah Boon Kheng
347pp. Size:160x240mm. Hardcover

This work by Manuel Godinho de Eredia, a cartographer of mixed Bugis and Portuguese descent, retains its importance as one of the best early accounts of the Malay Peninsula as well as its significance in the proto-history of Australian discovery. Eredia wrote his Description of Malaca in 1613, about a century after the great Malay kingdom had been taken by the Portuguese. Besides maps depicting Melaka and the surrounding region "controlled" and "claimed" by the Portuguese around the city, Eredia's book contains fascinating information on the genealogy of the kings of Melaka up to 1511, the burial place of its founder Parameswara, and on the traditional overland trails, namely the penarican(Malay penarikan) - a short route that separates the Muar River and the nearest navigable tributary of the Pahang River that was once used by the local Malay population in traversing parts of the Peninsula.

" is definitely useful to have the Description of Malaca available again, 68 years after it originally appeared. The core of the book's usefulness lies in its accounts of those areas which Eredia knew at first hand. Each new generation of students and scholars in the history and archaelogy of the southern Malay Peninsula will need to return to and familiarise themselves with it. This book could be mined for many details which could be integrated into future development and re-creation of Melakan history, and research into that history by archaelogical means, exploiting the maps and verbal descriptions contained herein. For example, the fortress which Eredia had built in 1604 at the mouth of the Muar River is described in sufficient detail that a major reconstruction could be undertaken. Eredia's map of Muar denotes the locations of the Harbour Master's Office, houses, fortress, and church."

John N. Miksic

About the Author:

Godinho de Eredia was born in 1563, offspring of a marriage between a Portuguese official and a Bugis aristocrat, with whom the former fell in love and subsequently eloped. Having spent his childhood in Melaka, Eredia was sent to Goa at 13 to be educated. Here he excelled in cartography, mathematics, astronomy and map making. By 1600, Eredia had returned to Southeast Asia with the intention of undertaking a grand voyage of exploration to eastern Indonesia. Instead, he only managed to reach Melaka where he was to remain for the next four years. Eredia's skills in cartography must have influenced the Portuguese authorities in Melaka to place him in charge of a 70-ship squadron guarding the southern approaches to the (by this time) frequently besieged port. Apart from his Description, Eredia wrote a number of other works but nothing more seems to have been heard from him after the publication of his final work in 1616.

John Vivian Gottlieb Mills (1887-1987) began his career in Malaya in 1911 as a Cadet in the Malayan Civil Service. After a period studying Chinese in Canton, Mills served in the Chinese Protectorate for several years. He also began to read Law in his spare time and was called to the Bar at Middle Temple in 1919. After he was transferred to the Colonial Legal Service, Mills held several positions including Solicitor General in Singapore and Supreme Court Judge in Johore. He retired in 1939. After his retirement, the prodigiously gifted scholar-official embarked upon another chapter in his long and brilliant life, and undertook a translation of Ma Huan's account of his voyages to Southeast Asia, a work which was published in the Indian summer of Mills' life and earned him an honorary D. Litt. from Oxford in 1970. Mills died at the age of 99 in Geneva, Switzerland, where he lived towards the end of his life.

Selected Maps and Illustrations taken from the 1882 Facsimile edition by Leon Janssen
Reproduction of title page of Janssen’s translation (1882)
Declaracam De: Malacca: E. India:
Affonso De Albuquerque
Malacca under Permicuri
Plans of the Citadel of Malacca
Plan of the Fortification of the Citadel of Malacca
Hills and Rivers of Malacca
Outskirts of Malacca Town
Ptolemy’s Map of Asia and S E Asia
District of Malacca
An Ancient Map showing the Isthmus of Tanjong Tuan and Tanjong Batuala
Eredia’s Map showing Tanjong Tuan (near Malacca) close to Tanjong Batuala (on Sumatra)
Sketch of an open pod of durian
Sketch of a mangosteen
A Map of the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra
A Map of Sumatra during Eredia’s Period
A man wearing a sarong and kris
A Malay lanchar and A Chinese junk
The Near East
The Far East
The Promontory of Ujong Tanah (Johor)
A Waterspout at Nicobar
Dona Elena Vesiva’s baptism certificate
Missionary Fancis Xavier
Map of Macassar
Manuel Godinho de Eredia
Eredia’s map of the world
The Portuguese fortress of Muar, 1604
Viceroy Dom Francisco de Gama
Map of Cathay which also shows Malacca
Map of Cathay
May of Indostan
Map of India

COPYRIGHT © 2010 Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society