On the occasion of a cartographic exhibition in the National Library of Singapore, Utrecht University Library has given in loan a cartographic masterpiece. It concerns a Buginese chart of the East Indian Archipelago from the early 19th century. The map is hand drawn on vellum, a surface created from animal skin. The document has a indigenous, Buginese origin and is based on western sources. A Dutch VOC chart could have well been served as an example. This type of 'indigenous cartography' is quite rare; worldwide only a few copies of comparable Buginese charts are known. The Utrecht copy is the biggest in size, covers the most extensive geographical area and has the best physical state. Most surviving copies were eventually used by local pirates. Unfortunately, the history of the Utrecht chart is still shrouded in mystery, but it is not inconceivable that it was seized from Buginese fishermen and tradesmen and also used by indigenous pirates.
The manuscript chart is one of the masterpieces at the cartographic exhibition Geo|Graphic: Celebrating Maps and Their Stories, from 16 January till 19 July 2015 in the National Library of Singapore. In January 2015 the exhibition was opened by the Singapore Minister for Communications and Information, Yaacob Ibrahim. He was very interested in the Buginese chart and ordered a reproduction to hang on the wall of his office.
See also the movie about the opening of the exhibition.