This is an important early work on Vietnam first published in French in Rome in 1650. Alexandre de Rhodes (1591-1660) was a Jesuit priest who devoted most of his life to missionary work in Vietnam. He wrote the first Vietnamese catechism and had a major influence on Vietnamese writing. He was a gifted linguist who mastered Vietnamese in only six months. He went on to compile the first Portuguese-Latin-Vietnamese dictionary. He was also one of the first to attempt to Romanize the Vietnamese alphabet, in other words to write it using western characters. The present day national language of Vietnam, Quoc Ngu, is based on his original phonetic and transliteration work. As a missionary Rhodes was constantly battling with the local pagan priests, was exiled twice and nearly sentenced to death for his teachings. Rhodes claimed in his reports that he converted more than 6,000 Vietnamese. He also worked as a missionary in China, Macao and Persia, but his true love was for the Vietnamese people. This is the scarce first Paris edition including the large folding map which is one of the earliest to show Vietnam in detail and is centred on the Gulf of Tongking and Hainan. It extends to Macao in the east, the borders of Laos and Quang Ngai in the south. Only one example of the book appears in the auction records for the last thirty years. Provenance: manuscript notation of a Jesuit College on the title page; William Woodville Rockhill (1854-1914), American diplomat, explorer, and scholar of Tibet. Whilst Minister to China for the USA (1905-1909), became the first Western diplomat to meet with a Dalai Lama. Cordier Sinica 2080; Suarez ‘Early Mapping of Southeast Asia’ p. 216-7.