January 22, 2009
Something that has been of interest to me lately is the process of drawing, specifically map-making (cartography). At one point, I put up a post on Ballantyne as an illustrator and also posted some thoughts about how I think those of us with little natural ability should look at drawing, sketching, etc,. But, recently I have been looking at different historic and neo-historic maps; one map in particular -- called "Carta Caledonia."
As many of you know, in June of '08 I went with my family on a trip to Scotland. It is definitely an understatement to say that Scotland has become very near and dear to me. This may be in part to the fact that one of my favorite authors lived in Scotland, and one of my heroes was a Scot.
At any rate, a friend painted a wonderful map of Scotland for my family which has many beautiful little reminders of what we learned and studied while in the "Holy Land" (an ancient reference to Scotland by its people who were exiled from their homeland.) I think this painting will rest among the many treasures that we brought back from Scotland for a very long time.
One of the aspects that I love about cartography is its prominent role in adventure, travel and history. Cartography is something that I have always been interested in and that I would love to learn more about someday.
I asked my friend to make a few comments about map-making and ancient cartography. Here are a couple of thoughts I received in response to my request:
Cartography for the Glory of God
A map is a graphic representation of God's creation. Maps are also a tool for subduing the earth through exploration and discovery.
Throughout history, the cartographers (map makers -- from the Greek chartis = map and graphein = write) held a lot of power, as they illustrated, outlined (and sometimes embellished) the known world through their art form. These were people who understood that beauty and function are not mutually exclusive, and were usually scientists as well as artists (sometimes artists first and scientists second as this map suggests):
What we all love about ancient maps is that they communicate more than mere spacial, geographic concepts. They are treasure troves of information and insights into past cultures, revealing notions of sovereignty, nationhood, national priorities and loyalties, the level of scientific advancement of the day, astronomical charts, religious beliefs, speculations of deep sea creatures, and the locations of important events. Modern maps are, thanks to scientific advancements, more accurate and precise, but sadly, they have lost a lot of their depth of meaning.
What I strive for with my maps is to present the best of both worlds, combining the geographic accuracy of the new with the aesthetic richness and beauty of the old. I believe that the art of map-making is the art of charting and documenting the handiwork and providence of God, marking the ancient boundaries and rocks of remembrances, and proclaiming His sovereignty over the earth.
"The earth is the LORD'S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." - Psalm 24:1
"The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.." - Psalm 89:11