Brasilia et Pervvia

Dublin Core


Brasilia et Pervvia


South America


Brazil et Pervvia is a map depicting South America and parts of Central America and the Caribbean Islands. It is a hand-painted map made by Dutch cartographer Cornelis de Jode in 1593, which was when the Netherlands was fighting for independence from the Spanish. It is interesting to note that Cornelis de Jode’s father, Gerard de Jode, was also a mapmaker of greater renown.

Brasilia et Pervvia was originally published in Cornelis de Jode’s atlas Speculum Orbis Terrarum (Mirror of the World) in 1593. This map depicts several territories, which were Spanish and Portuguese colonies at the time, including Brazil, Peru, Chile and New Andalusia. The map features detailed Latin scripture, demarking the coastal regions in addition to several blocks of descriptive text on the land mass. The small red demarcations indicate potential settlements, which could either be colonial or native towns. When comparing this map to the modern day geographical layout of South America, the general shape of the continent is captured, however, the borders are significantly different. Chile, for example encompasses a large portion of the southern continent. New Andalusia is now known as Venezuela, Colombia, Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana. The original map was hand painted, and due to the ornate script and creative animals, was most likely used as decoration instead of navigation.


Cornelis de Jode


Cornelis de Jode




Mythili Nair


Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License


Full-sized digital item can be found in McMaster's Digital Archive at:


Colour map; 36 X 42cm, entire map is hand coloured








South America--Brazil, Peru, Chile--Caribbean Area

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format


Physical Dimensions

on sheet 41 x 53 cm

Contributor's Research

Maps can be influenced by the dominant ideological context in which they are created. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were a period during which several European powers fought for global domination, seeking new lands to conquer and add to their burgeoning empires. Imperialism was the ideological basis that justified Europeans’ claims over newly discovered territories. Maps were physical representations of the empire, furthering the imperial and colonial agendas of several nations (Craib, 2000). Brasilia et Pervvia was created by Dutch cartographer Cornelis de Jode in 1593. The historical and ideological setting in which this map was created leads to the question: How did imperialist ideology influence cartographic representations in the map Brasilia et Pervvia? To answer this question, the underlying imperialist philosophy will be connected to the historical context in which the map was made, and then symbolic details will be connected to imperialist ideology.

The historical period during which this map was created was a breeding ground for imperialist thought. The turn of the seventeenth century marked the halfway point of the Eighty Years’ War as the Netherlands fought for independence from Spain. During the early 1600s, the northern states successfully separated from the Spanish controlled southern states (“Eighty Years’ War”, 2016). The newly formed nation of the Netherlands soon entered a prosperous era, known as the Dutch Golden Age. Through the seventeenth century, the Netherlands asserted its international dominance through trade and colonization (“Eighty Years’ War”, 2016). This came with an increase of nationalistic and imperialistic sentiment. Imperialism is rooted in the idea that certain groups are naturally destined to lead others (Stuchtey, 2011). By otherizing and promoting cultural superiority of self, many European powers felt it was their duty and their right to expand their territorial claims to newly discovered lands (Stuchtey, 2011). This meant that each nation state believed they were best suited to establish colonies, leading to increased competition between European powers. It also promoted the idea of a social hierarchy, with the superior Europeans destined to lead savage natives into a better way of living. These two tenets of imperialism, international competition and social superiority, are represented in de Jode’s map.

As European nations built their empires, maps played a part in colonial diplomacy as they helped settle border disputes and were a resource for treaty negotiations (Schmidt, 1997). Maps legitimized the land they depicted (Harley, 1989), and therefore became a tool to impose superiority over colonial competitors. This is depicted in several ways in Brasilia et Pervvia. There are several large ships off the coast of Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean in conflict with one another, with a large explosion depicted between the two. Additionally, three more ships are scattered in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, symbolizing the various European countries vying for power in South America. One curious detail is that the flags on the ships are nondescript. Assigning the ships national alliances could have been a method to reinforce Dutch domination over other countries, promoting nationalistic sentiment. Instead, the Netherlands’ superiority was enforced through the use of Latin rather than Dutch. By using a language that was understood across Europe, de Jode contributed to the Dutch mapmaking legacy, dictating European cartographic discourse and frustrating other European powers (Schmidt, 1997). The map acts is a subtle declaration of the Netherlands’ desire to establish colonies in South America. History provides evidence for this: the Netherlands established a colony in Brazil in 1621, directly challenging Spanish and Portuguese claims to the land (Stuchtey, 2011). Therefore, Brasilia et Pervvia symbolically represents Dutch superiority over their European competitors, furthering Dutch imperialist ideations.

Imperialist ideology also reinforced a social hierarchy (Harley, 1989). This closely connects to the moral imperialist argument, which says that it is the duty of those in the upper echelons of the hierarchy to guide others (Stuchtey, 2011). Maps were a physical representation of social geographies and hierarchies (Harley, 1989), which is seen Brasilia et Pervvia. Within Brazil, there are several tribes of Indigenous South Americans. In one tribe, the half-clothed members are beating someone with a club. Another person is seen standing over a fire, watching someone burn. These barbaric practices furthered the moral superiority argument, providing justification for Europeans to lay claim to the land and civilize them. The Europeans and Natives are further contrasted with a group of fully clothed Europeans, representing civility, juxtaposing the naked natives. The rudimentary bows, arrows and clubs of the natives falter in comparison to the advanced guns of the Europeans. Additionally, there are several canoes off the coast of Brazil consisting of half clothed individuals with weapons, directly juxtaposing the grandiose ships. These subtle assertions of dominance highlight the superiority of the Europeans by otherizing the natives, a key characteristic of imperialism.

The purpose of this map also helped further the imperialist agenda. Dutch maps were ornate and hung prominently in the homes of merchants and nobles (Stone, 1988). Decorative maps that featured imperialistic ideas served as public propaganda to further the colonial agenda at the beginning of the 1600s (Sutton, 2015). Brasilia et Pervvia is presumably a decorative map, as it carefully hand-painted, using varied colours and a great amount of detail. The border surrounding the title is ornate, embellishing the map. The animals that are seen in the land and the water are fantastical, adding to the allure and mystery of South America. These decorative maps reflected values that were rooted in natural law by placing authority upon eyewitness and pictorial proof (Sutton, 2015). Additionally, vignettes and coastal depictions were part of cartographical propaganda to guide merchants, attract colonialists and support territorial claims (Sutton, 2015). Disseminating these maps reinforced the public’s opinion of European superiority and stereotypes of South America. As maps reinforced this authority with the public, the culture of colonization was further fuelled.

Imperialist ideology is evident through the choices and symbolic depictions in de Jode’s map. It reiterates the dominant European idea of superiority over lesser countries. Imperialism contributed to colonialist thought, leading to the establishment of Dutch colonies in Brazil and Suriname. Maps such as Brasilia et Pervvia are by-products of the ideological framework in which they were created, providing a perspective into history.


Craib, R. B. (2000). Cartography and power in the conquest and creation of New Spain. Latin American Research Review, 35(1): 7-36. Retrieved from

Eighty Years’ War. (2016). In Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved from

Harley, J. B. (1989). Deconstructing the map. Cartographica, 26(2): 1-20. Retrieved from;view=fulltext

Schmidt, B. (1997). Mapping an Empire: Cartographic and colonial rivalry in seventeeth-century Dutch and English North America. The William and Mary Quarterly, 54(3): 549-78. Retrieved from

Stone, J. C. (1988). Imperialism, colonialism and cartography. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 13(1): 57-64. Retrieved from

Stuchtey, B. (2011). Colonialism and Imperialism, 1450-1950. European History Online. Retrieved from

Sutton, E. A. (2015). Capitalism and cartography in the Dutch Golden Age. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press."


Cornelis de Jode, “Brasilia et Pervvia,” Omeka Testbed, accessed July 21, 2018,