Monday, July 16, 2012

"Mappa" Monday

"[T]hey pondered the storied and figured maps..."--J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings.

"We must emphasize that no [Fantasyland] Tour is complete without a Map. Further, you must not expect to be let off from visiting every damn place shown on it."--Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.

"Oh, I do love maps! I have quite a collection."--Bilbo Baggins, in the Rankin/Bass adaptation of The Hobbit.

Mappa mundi is the term given to the European world maps of the Middle Ages; these were often largely conceptual affairs showing Jerusalem as the center of the world with the distant margins peopled with fanciful creatures like monopods or cynocephali. It has often been an impulse (especially post-Tolkien) for imaginative writers to "give to airy nothings a local habitation and a name;" it lends verisimilitude and can keep the reader oriented in a spiritual space.

I personally love a "figured" map, that shows tiny pictures of places rather than simply dots, lines, and names. You can walk places like that in your head with ease. I have the map-drawing urge myself; I can hardly count the times I've re-drawn Thror's Map from The Hobbit. I paid the enormous sum (for me at the time) of three dollars for the National Geographic map of Shakespeare's Britain when I was in middle school. This and Tolkien's maps influenced my own efforts producing maps of fantasy worlds for a long time, and they include every darn detail from little molehill mountains to feathery trees to hairy ground labelled "marshes" that Diana Wynne Jones skewers so lovingly in The Tough Guide.


Babel said...

An amazing collection! The thing I love the most about your blog is that it the only one I know of wherein I want to reap every single pic that you post for my own image-horde! Great...

AlanDP said...

What a great post. A few random comments:

1. The maps I've seen of the world of Fullmetal Alchemist are very similar to The Land of Oz, with the primary setting in the exact center and the rest of the world scattered more or less evenly around it.

2. I had never seen that map of the Dreamworld before. I've saved it for future study.

3. The Dragonball map looks very similar to the world of Ultima (that old computer game I used to have).

4. Exactly which Land of Make-Believe is that? When I first saw the name I started looking for the little red trolley.

Nathan said...

I love maps, both of real places and imaginary ones. Which Dragon Quest is that one map from, by the way?

Brer said...

"The Land of Make-Believe" is a poster or print by Jaro Hess, first published in 1930 and still available today; it was designed to decorate the rooms of children. It is similar to Bernard Sleigh's "An Ancient Mappe of Fairyland" (c.1920), also still reprinted and sold. Both show a variety of imaginary places. On the Hess 'map' you can see Jack's beanstalk and the cow jumping over the moon, among other things.

The Dragon Quest map is supposed to be from Dragon Quest 8, which I love.

Brer said...

And when I turned Jones' Fantasyland map upside down I laughed out loud!

Nathan said...

I'm not familiar with Fullmetal Alchemist, but I looked up the map and it definitely appears to have some Ozian influence. So does this map from a He-Man episode.

Dragon Quest VIII is actually the only one in the series I haven't played. I just recently started on the sixth one, which is interesting mapwise as it deals with two parallel worlds.

AlanDP said...

Ha, the Mediterranean. I didn't even notice that.