the beauty of cartography

More delicate than the historians’ are the map-makers’ colours.
Elizabeth Bishop 1911–79
‘The Map’ (1946)

While it has been argued that mapping is an act and representation of savage imperialism, and to a great extent I agree, I have always been drawn to the beauty of maps.

When I was a little Miss I loved to look at maps. I remember lying on the floor looking at maps with a friend of mine for hours. I loved the aesthetics of the maps and he loved the facts. While I was studying every colour and texture he was memorising the capital cities, populations and flags of most countries. People thought us strange but we didn’t care for the beauty of maps was ours and we hardly wanted to share it.

Today I am a little more mature, I’m willing to share, and I have discovered a gorgeous map blog that I would like to share with all of you. It’s called Strange Maps but I think it not strange, I think it beautiful. The maps on this site support the theory that cartography is an expression and representation of political dominance and control. A fact I find quite intriguing. To think that the manipulation of a representation of the landscape actually has an effect on the landscape of human history, human identity and world relations is quite amazing. The maps here are loaded with symbolic significance. They are powerful statements of the times and people who created them. And they are beautiful. Check it out.


12 Responses to “the beauty of cartography”

  1. Islandsparrow Says:

    I have always been drawn to maps inside the covers of books – Like Narnia and LOTR and the 100 Acre wood of course!

  2. John Dekker Says:

    That’s a wonderful blog which merits further attention. I’ll have a closer look later on.

    I haven’t forgotten about the five questions, by the way…

  3. missmellifluous Says:

    Mmmmmm! Maps inside books are great. I love them too. Though sometimes I try not to look because I want to imagine the landscape for myself but I can never resist a sneaky peek.

  4. missmellifluous Says:

    I think the blog is great too, John. There are some great examples of propaganda over there. The diversity of the maps is really interesting too. I’m intrigued.

    Oh, and I’m looking forward to reading your five answers shortly. I was about to post a reminder to you…

  5. Radagast Says:

    I love maps too. I always used to like drawing maps of imaginary places…

  6. missmellifluous Says:

    Oooh! Do you still have any maps you have drawn? I’d love to see them.
    Part of our Year9 English program is to get students to draw a map of the setting in which the action in their novel takes place. Some of the maps the students drew were brilliant. I loved them. It takes a lot of skill to draw an effective map. I also love seeing how other people view imagined landscapes.

  7. John Dekker Says:

    I’ve just dug up my map of Scömeiah. I have before me a beif history of the country, a map, and a genealogy of the royal family.

    Scömeiah is bordered by Hormoso Tierra on the north, Rolassa on the south, Schomonoloff and Kracikör on the west, and the Kala Sea on the east.

    Phillip VIII, of the house of Gazinne, ascended the throne in 1987.

  8. Radagast Says:

    Sadly, no. 😦

  9. missmellifluous Says:

    😦 indeed.

  10. missmellifluous Says:

    Oooh! I have no idea what any of that means, John but I’d love to see the map and hear of the history. Can you post it? This map thing really is very fun! and boy you have some amazing historical treasures – coins, maps, what else is there you’re keeping from us?

  11. Ellen Says:

    Very cool. I’ll have to show “Dear” and Katie this site.

  12. ish Says:

    Is it map week? Yesterday we had a great map discussion from a very mapish vantage point in the Rocky Mountains, with people to whom I had just delivered some detailed maps of Bruny Island in Tassie, which they requested.

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