chapter  2
16 Pages

Locating Garcia de Orta in the Port City of Goa and the Indian Ocean World

The naturalist Carolus Clusius left the Southern Netherlands in March 1564 for a lengthy trip to the Iberian Peninsula not because he wanted to go there, but because his patron had changed his mind. The different editions of and additions to Orta's work which Clusius produced in almost 40 years present a rare opportunity to investigate how European experts in natural history appropriated information and dealt with exotic nature in both text and image. Two general characteristics of natural history in mid-sixteenth-century Europe are particularly relevant to Clusius's changes. The construction of a European image of exotic nature did not take place in a social or spatial vacuum, moreover. Without the great interest of the European public in information about exotic rarities, Clusius's own growing reputation as a naturalist, and the entrepreneurial instinct of Plantin in Antwerp, no series of five successive Orta editions would have been published in the course of four decades.