“Jacques-Nicolas Bellin Map of the Straits of Malacca”, is a maritime map of Singapore and Governor’s Straits dating to 1755. Jacques Nicolas Bellin was a French hydrographer, geographer and member of the French intellectual group called the philosophes and when this map was made he was head of the French Hydrographic Office.
This map shows landmarks along the western coast of the Malay Peninsula, including an island named Pulo ou Isle Panjang meaning “Long Island” which is modern-day Singapore. The purpose of this map was to provide the best maritime charts for the French ships that were competing against the British
Judging from the inaccurate geographical features of the Singapore island, the island was not of significance to the French, at this time. The maps main focus was as a maritime chart of the sea around Singapore island. This area was important, as it connect the South China Sea to the Straits of Malacca, and onwards to the Indian Ocean. The accurate depiction of waterways south of Singapore were of immense interest. These maps were precious tools, based on the observations of sailors and were continuously improved upon.
The name Sincapour appears in the names of the waterways off Singapore Island. On the south of the island, there is a “Nouveau Detroit de Sincapour” or New Strait of Singapore, while the channel between is labelled as V”ieux Detroit de Sincapour” or Old Strait of Singapore. The mariners at this time, associate the place name of Singapore with the waterways and not the island.
- Title: Jacques-Nicolas Bellin Map of the Straits of Malacca
- Author: Bellin, Jacques Nicolas, 1703-1772
- Dates: 1755
- Published: Paris
- Type: Chart Map
- Material: Paper
- Museum: National Museum of Singapore
“A given excuse that was not asked for, implies guilt.” Singaporean / Malay Proverb
Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons