05 July 2020
World Map World Cup: Group 1
Welcome to the British Library’s world map world cup, and this the first of four qualifying groups. Vote for your favourite over on Twitter (@BLMaps) . The top two maps will go through to the quarter finals on Friday.
Here's more information on the maps if you need help deciding!
1. The Psalter world map, c. 1265. Add.MS 28681
The Psalter map was probably drawn in Westminster in around 1265 and is almost certainly a miniature (15 cm high) copy of Henry III of England's large mappamundi that adorned his palace in Westminster. Although it is included in a prayer book (psalter) it is now believed that it was added to the book later. There is a second map on the verso of the leaf, which shows the world in T-O form, with Christ trampling underfoot the dragons shown at the bottom of this map.
Link to digitised version https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/psalter-world-map
2. Ptolemaic world map, drawn in Greece, c. 1300. Add.MS 19391
The first printed maps made according to 2nd century Claudius Ptolemy's geographical tables were produced in Italy in 1477. But the earliest surviving 'Ptolemaic' maps were hand-drawn in Constantinople and Greece, where Ptolemy's information arrived via the Islamic world at the end of the 13th century. The earliest known copy is in the Vatican Library (Urbinas Graecus 82). The British Library has 3 manuscript copies of Ptolemy's Geographia illustrated with maps. This is a portion of the codex drawn in the Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos in Greece.
Link to digitised version: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_19391
3. Bankoku sōzu, by Hyashi Jizaemon. Woodcut, printed in Nagasaki, 1645. Maps *920.(485).
The Bankoku sōzu maps are an elite group of Japanese world maps from the 17th century . These maps show a variety of influences including Chinese and European (which is significant given Japan's insular policy at this time). The maps were designed to be displayed on walls with east at the top, next to an accompanying print of 40 ethnographic portraits known as a Jimbutsuzi.
Further reading: Elke Papelitzky, 'A Description and Analysis of the Japanese World Map Bankoku sōzu in Its Version of 1671 and Some Thoughts on the Sources of the Original Bankoku sōzu' in Journal of Asian History (48:1, 2014)
4. World map by Thomas Jefferys. Engraving, published in London, c.1750. Maps Screen 2.
Thomas Jefferys large multi-sheet copper-engraved double hemisphere map is one of a number of such maps produced by English mapmakers during the 18th century. Everything about its content is focused upon trade, and features of the world such as magnetic variation and trade winds that made trade possible (though there is no mention of the more deplorable aspects of British 18th century imperialism). The map is the centrepiece of a large pine screen, a piece of furniture that would have populated the home of a merchant. 20 other maps are pasted onto the screen, which would likely have served an educational, as well as a cultural purpose.
Link to digitised version: https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/screen-with-engraved-maps-c-1750
Further reading: Geoff Armitage with Ashley Baynton-Williams, The world at their fingertips : eighteenth-century British two-sheet double-hemisphere world maps (London: British Library, 2012).