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1798 Cassini Map Le Isole di Sandwich

Cassini 1798
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"Le Isole di Sandwich"

Published by Giovanni Cassini, 1798

One of the first decorative maps of early Hawai'i is "Le Isole di Sandwich," by Giovanni Cassini. The map is based on Cook's chart however, Cassini, inspired by John Webber's engraving, added his version of the death of Cook to the cartouche. Because the artist had little knowledge of Polynesians or English officers uniforms, he used his imagination and placed Cook's men in Italian Officer's uniforms and depicted a warlike band of Indians in headdress stabbing the good captain in the back. The map clearly shows the phonetic spelling used by Captain Cook when attempting to spell the names of the islands. Upon his arrival, Cook found that the Hawaiian's didn't have a written language but practiced an oral tradition of passing along history through chants, stories and legends. When interpreting the phonetic spelling of the island names, pronounce T as K and R as L. Since Cook didn't rename the islands but spelled what he heard, we are assured that these are the orginal Hawaiian island names.