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Why Ancient Mapmakers Were Terrified of Blank Spaces


"The Indian Ocean is teeming with sea monsters in Caspar Vopel’s 1558 map of the world. A giant swordfish-like creature looks to be on a collision course with a ship, while a walrus with frighteningly large tusks emerges from the water, and a king carrying a flag rides the waves on a hog-faced beast."

 ‎· maitani

"Vopel, a German cartographer, left behind no explanation of why he added these things to his map, but he may have been motivated by what art historians call horror vacui, the artist’s fear of leaving unadorned spaces on their work. Chet Van Duzer, a historian of cartography, has found dozens of maps on which cartographers appear to have filled the empty spaces on their maps with non-existent mountains, monsters, cities, and other gratuitous illustrations."

 ‎· maitani 2

Related: "Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps" by Chet Van Duzer

 ‎· псы в рапиде 1

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