Date: Thu, 26 Jun 1997 14:47:26 -0400
From: Thomas Suarez suarez@MCI2000.COM
Subject: calendar map fragment

Out of the frame? Click here

Medieval World Map Fragment

Hello folks,

I recently acquired a fragment of a woodcut which appears to have been a circular medieval calendar “map”. The piece is a 12 x 20 cm chunk of what must have been roughly a 45 cm diameter original. The map itself is reminiscent of medieval mappaemundi, though it may not have been intended as a map of the world per se. It is on paper which may be late fifteenth century or thereabouts, although this is only a guess. The fragment shows arbitrary (?) “countries” surrounded by water, with some of the usual human exotica : there is the man with a dog’s head, the guy with a single huge foot serving as an umbrella, and the person with a double head. These are accompanied by brief Latin legends, which are very difficult (for me) to decipher. There are also three “normal” people, as well as a lion, a church, and a tower. Around the perimeter are the calendar markings.

The fragment seems to have formed roughly the 9:00 to 10:00 section of the circle, so that IF a world view was intended, it would probably be northern Europe and/or northwestern Asia (presumably east would have been at the top).

The fragment seems to have first surfaced about thirty years ago, and I have personally known of it for about fifteen years. I am quite confident that it is “real” to the extent that it is not a prank, but beyond that it is a mystery to me.

Rodney Shirley (Mapping of the World, page XX) writes that “occasional fragments of [medieval world maps] have been discovered, perhaps forming parts of popular broadsides or calendars.” Rodney also mentioned to me that some “medieval” calendars were printed as curiosities in the early nineteenth century, although the fragment in question is clearly not from that source.

If anyone can offer any ideas or guidance in identifying the map (?), I would be most grateful. I would be happy to fax it, or I could scan it and send as an attached tif or jpg file via e-mail (directly, not to the list).

Regards to all,
Tom Suarez

Contributions to the discussion direct to the MapHist discussion list (sending to MapHist means sending to 600 people world wide!).