Exploring Through World Map Tapestries

For the traveler at heart, world map tapestries are a constant source of pride and joy. This variety of hanging tapestries is a good nucleus to a living room filled with memorabilia from worldwide travels, souvenirs from countless gift shops, and one-of-a-kind mementos from places far away.

How Maps Began

The olden times’ obsession with expanding horizons and conquering uncharted seas is well documented in history. Long before the West’s eastward expansion, civilizations have been fascinated with geography. Ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and even the Chinese have made maps of their own. The first world map was drawn by a Greek: Ptolemy, an astronomer.

Later on, the West’s fascination with the Far East spurred conquest after conquest of then undiscovered land. Towards the end of the 15th century, the first models of globes started to surface. Other than the political implications of these voyages, world maps and cartography spoke volumes about this fascination.

Along with this strong explorative trend, tapestries on world geography started to come out during the 16th and 17th centuries. Their striking detail and outward vision tickled the curiosity of a populace that generally didn’t get a lot of chance to travel outside their native soil. Today, antique collectors also prey on old maps because of the authentic feel they give.

World Maps as Art

As world maps of then and today require meticulous attention to detail, they are considered works of art. In fact, most of the modern world maps that are based on early models are done on parchment paper in an attempt to preserve antiquity. Some cartographers also make use of embellishments in maps, such as mythic creatures like mermaids to make them more interesting. These extras can make or break some maps, as not all people like serpents and other sea creatures drawn randomly on their Pacific Ocean.

Choosing the World Map Tapestry for You

There are a variety of famous world map tapestries, but one stands out from the rest: a map by Dutch cartographer Henricus Hondius called “Nova totius terrarum orbis geographica ac hydrographica tabula” (A complete new map of the earth and the oceans). Characteristic of the period, this is not as simple map. It features two globes side by side with accurate depictions of the East and West division of the world. Along its borders, one can see portraits of explorers, knights in their steeds, and more figures in mythology. The countries are even differentiated by sharp changes in hues.

In choosing your world map tapestry, pay attention to composition. If the Old World sense of exploration appeals to you, then pick ones that have been enhanced by the cartographer’s imagination. If you want tapestries simple and direct to the point, choose maps that do away with the embellishments and just focus on the contours of the world.

The fascinating thing about world map tapestries is that they are able to combine mythic imagination and scientific accuracy. If you want your room to imbibe this spirit, then world map tapestries are for you.


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