The estuary of the Rio Tejungo (today known as the Rio Moniga), located along the north-central coat of Mozambique, in what was then the Quelimane District (today Zambezia Province), has for centuries been a key trading port, especially for the export of the region’s abundant agrarian resources, as well as a base for fishing vessels.
The attractively drafted chart is based upon groundbreaking scientific surveys conducted in 1898 by Lieutenant João Carlos da Silva Nogueira, of the Portuguese Navy, and the Coast Guard officer César Augusto Gomes do Amaral. The survey was part of a grander over-arching project to map both Mozambique’s terrestrial and maritime spaces in the most technically advanced manner, overseen by the Comissão de Cartografia, the Portuguese colonial mapping agency, in order to aide ambitious economic development programmes and spur foreign investment.
The map shows that the basin formed by the confluence of the ‘Rio Tejunga ou Moniga’ and the ‘Rio Edugo’ provides a superb shelter for vessels, and while the mouth of the harbour, between the Ponta Moneapa and Ponta Maverani, is quite clear and deep, the offshore areas feature dangerous, shallow sandbars.
Nogueira and Amaral’s careful soundings of the harbour and the offshore shoals indicate that only shallow-draft dhows and small fishing boats could clear the sandbars before the harbour. While the locals had long used craft that were perfectly suited to such waters, the Portuguese were faced the choice of having to dredge the offshore areas if they ever wanted to use the Rio Tejunga/Moniga for large, modern motorized vessels.
Today, the Rio Moniga estuary is a key fishing port, as well as a major base for the export of copra (dried cocoanut kernels), a lucrative crop that has many culinary and industrial uses. Recent figures record that 3,000 tons of copra leave the port annually.
A Note on Rarity
Like almost all 19th century Portuguese sea charts of colonial subjects, the present work is very rare. It would have been published in only a small print run, while the survival rate of such working charts is very low, especially as Portuguese issues tended to be printed on quite fragile paper.
We can trace only 3 institutional examples of the chart, all in Iberia, held by the Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal; Archivo Historico Ultramarino (Portugal); and the Biblioteca Nacional de España. Moreover, we are not aware of any other examples as having appeared on the market.
References: Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal: C.C. 257 V.; Archivo Historico Ultramarino: PT/AHU/CARTI/064/00582; Biblioteca Nacional de España: MR/33-41/3429; OCLC: 1139006601, 9088264275; Ana CANAS (ed.), Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino, Coleção de Cartografia Impressa (Lisbon, 2017), p. 48; The Geographical Journal, vol. 18, no. 2 (August 1901), pp. 247; UNIVERSIDADE DE COIMBRA, O Instituto: revista scientifica e literária, no. 55 (Coimbra, 1908), p. 384.