RATKAJ, Ivan (May 22, 1647, Ptuj, Slovenia - December 26, 1683, Jesus Carichic, Mexico), missionary, cartographer. Ratkaj was born into a well-known Croatian noble family and, as a youth, was a page at the court of Leopold I in Vienna. In 1664 he entered the Jesuit order and in 1680 arrived in Mexico where he was a missionary in the region of Tarahumara (Chihuahua), first for a short while in the mission Tutuaci, and then in Jesus Carichicu. He wrote three reports describing his missions, the regions where he worked, a way of life, character and habits of the native populace. The first report contains an account of his journey from Vienna to Mexico City (1678-80), the second an account of the journey from the capital to the district of Tarahumara, and the third one, dispatched several months before his death, contains a description of the region, people, habits and the work of missionaries in this Northamerican district. The oldest descriptions of the region, his reports are marked with a distinguished style, a plenty of details and the author's unmediated narration. In the last of them Ratkaj enclosed a map of the district of Tarahumara on which geographical latitudes and longitudes, as well as the four cardinal points, missionary stations and Spanish fortifications, positions of the regional Indian tribes were marked while rivers and mountains were presented approximately. The oldest map of the Mexican region, Ratkaj's map is also one of the oldest cartographic works of Croatian authors. The map of the district of Tarahumara (where the mission Jesus Carichic was situated) was made in 1683 as a drawing on paper. Its original is stored in the central Jesuit archives in Rome (Archivum Historicum S. I., Roma, Hist. Soc. 150), and a copy of reduced size was published by E. J. Burrus in La obra cartografica de la Provincia Mexicana de la Compania de Jesus (1567-1767) in Madrid in 1967.
Map of the Tarahumar province from 1683 by Ivan Ratkaj