A rare volume by the legendary scholar Padre Pedro Murillo Velarde — and with it a smaller but still extraordinarily important version of his iconic map — has surfaced at León Gallery for its upcoming Magnificent September Auction this Saturday, September 19.
The book, titled Historia de la Provincia de Philipinas, is a history of the Jesuit order in the Philippines by the priest Murillo Velarde (1696-1753.) It was published in Manila in 1749 in original limp vellum. (The edition at hand is encased in a modern hardbound slipcase.) Consisting of 419 pages it was printed by the gifted Indio engraver D. Nicolás de la Cruz Bagay at the Imprenta de la Compañía de Jesús, Manila. Bagay also engraved the included foldout map, Mapa de las Yslas Philipinas hecho por el Padre Pedro Murillo Velarde de la Compañía de Jesús, 1744.
A stunning work is the famous full page frontispiece engraving—this time by Laureano Atlas—of the Virgen de la Rosa of Makati and the Virgen de la Paz y Buen Viage of Antipolo.
This extremely coveted book is titled the Segunda Parte, or the sequel of a pre- viously published history of the Philippine Jesuit province—Fr. Francisco Colín’s Labor evangélica (1663)—which was considered the Parte Primera that covered Philippine history from the earliest time until 1616. Murillo Velarde’s sequel traced the colony’s history from 1616 till 1716 as indicated in the subtitle.
This author also continued Fr. Colin’s outstanding work, which was the first book to contain the earliest scientific data on flora, fauna, geography, and languages of the Philippines.The first part of Murillo Velarde’s book tackles Philippine colonial history, while the second describes the conquest and missions of Mindanao. The last part deals with the conquest of the Mariana and Palau islands.
The included foldout map, Mapa de las Yslas Philipinas hecho por el Padre Pe- dro Murillo Velarde de la Compañía de Jesús is the reduced 1744 version and almost as renowned and exceedingly rare as the 1734 map of Murillo Velarde, the Carta hydrográphica y chorográphica de las Islas Philipinas, known as the “Queen of All Philippine Maps.”
This second edition is known for its distinctively charming cartouche dominated by a lion holding aloft a banner, which is flanked on the left side by a berobed Chinese with a parasol and an Aeta with a bow and arrow, and on its right is yet another Cimarrón archer and a Moro with kalasag and spear. The bottom of the cartouche is surmounted by the famous Dos Mundos, signifying the east and west hemispheres that Spain ruled.
The former is represented by an indio with his gamecock and the other by a be-robed European maiden.
This version of its larger sister can also be easily distinguished not only by its smaller size but by the lack of traceries of sea routes and multiple compass roses, which indicated that it was truly more of a map rather than a portolan chart for use of navigators.
Another distinctive feature is the representation of the Jesuit Apostle of the East, St. Francis Xavier, who rides a seashell while holding a trident like Jupiter as he rules the waves. Humorously, a tiny crab to his right returns the saint’s lost crucifix, referring to a legendary anecdote.
The engraver of the map is identified on the bottom right corner with the phrase, “Lo esculpió Nicolás Cruz de la Bagay, Manila, Año 1744.” The rarity of this map can be gleaned from the inventory of Jesuit properties at the time of their expulsion from the Philippines in 1768: only one large one of 1734 was available, while only six of this very same map were at hand.
This historical icon continues to be an object of fascination due to its continuing relevance. The larger version of this map was presented to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague as the major cartographic and historical piece of evidence proving the connection between the Philippine mainland and Scarborough Shoal (also known as Bajo de Masinloc), which is clearly indicated in the map as Panacot island west of Zambales.
The long-simmering dispute between the Philippines and China over the rights on some islands in the West Philippine Sea was ultimately decided in favor of the Philippines on 12 July 2016. The international court rendered a decision that declared that the Chinese claims could not be substantiated and that the Bajo de Masinloc was a shoal visible only at low tide and therefore could not entitle China to claim it as its exclusive economic zone. In the end the tiny island depicted in this map would lie at the very crux of an international dispute.