Digital Library

Livro de Traças de Carpintaria

Title: Livro de traças de Carpintaria

Author: Manoel Fernandez

Year:   1616

Country: Portugal

Description: 1 Vol. [140 fls.]

Owner: Biblioteca do Palácio Nacional da Ajuda, Portugal

Call No.:  


Published in Facsimile:

Fernandez, Manoel. Livro de traças de Carpintaria, 1616, Fac-simile, Lisboa: Academia de Marinha, 1989.

Fernandez, Manoel. Livro de traças de Carpintaria: Transcription and Translation into English, Lisboa: Academia de Marinha, 1995.


This manuscript contains a collection of texts describing ship types and a collection of drawings representing ship types. There is no exact correspondence between the texts and the drawings, and this page is an attempt to reconcile and organize the information contained in the book.

Amaral Xavier reminds us that at least parts of Fernandez’ book and Coriosidades, from Gonçalo de Sousa, are copies of the same original, which did not survive until our days.

A particularity of this book is the existence of different horizontal and vertical scales in some of the drawings, presumably to ensure that they would fit in the spaces allocated to each drawing. This detail is not indicated and where possible, we have deducted the units and the scales utilized to produce each of these drawings.

The author represented some of the rising and narrowing scales – graminhos –  in these pages and we have collected the values from the original, at Biblioteca da Ajuda, and will present them separately.

The Author

The Livro de Traças de Carpintaria is signed by a Manoel Fernandez, shipwright, and dated to 1616. We do not know with certainty who this shipwright named Fernandez was, although there are a few possible candidates, none of whom were ever entrusted with high ranking responsibilities either in Lisbon or in India.


The Livro de Traças describes a variety of vessels, from caravels to India naus, and is divided into two main sections. The first section has lists of dimensions of the primary structural components of a ship such as stem, stern post, midship and tail frames. The second contains an impressive collection of drawings, mainly intended as descriptions of the structural components of the ships, and less concerned with the conceptual aspect of the shipbuilding process.

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