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Early Pictorial Maps of Asia and Europe from the Hauslab-Liechtenstein Collection

The following post is by Anna Balaguer, a Junior Fellow at the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

This summer, I have the opportunity to participate in the Library of Congress Junior Fellows program, working in the Geography and Map Division. I am working with cartographic specialist Ryan Moore to process the Hauslab-Liechtenstein Map Collection, which contains some 10,000 printed map sheets from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, assembled by the Austrian cartographer and general Franz Ritter von Hauslab and later acquired by Prince Jordan II of Liechtenstein. While going through these maps, I came upon two pictorial maps (maps which display a territory artistically, rather than solely technically) that I found particularly interesting, and decided to examine the pieces in greater detail. Pictorial maps have existed since ancient times; however, in the medieval and Renaissance eras, zoomorphic (animals as maps) and anthropomorphic (people as maps) maps became increasingly popular in Europe. Both of the maps displayed below are thought to have been created around 1581 by Heinrich Bünting.

Asia Seunda Pars Terrae in Forma Pegasi, 1581. Hauslab-Liechtenstein Map Collection. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Asia Seunda Pars Terrae in Forma Pegasi, 1581. Hauslab-Liechtenstein Map Collection. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

The first map, in the shape of the flying horse Pegasus, is titled Asia Seunda Pars Terrae in Forma Pegasi.  The inscription on the front of the map draws on mythology and provides what appears to be an incantation to Bellerophon, the Hellenic hero famed for slaying monsters while riding on Pegasus. The map shows the landmass of the present-day Middle East and Southeast Asia but leaves out Japan, Korea, and much of modern-day China. This omission may have been a result of a lack of knowledge on the part of the cartographer; however, as the exploration of these lands by Europeans occurred well before the map was thought to have been made, it seems intentional. The text on the reverse of the map also contains interesting commentary on Quinsai (modern-day Hangzhou, China), the single Chinese city on the map, which the cartographer put on the tail of Pegasus. The key describes Quinsai in seemingly mythological terms, stating that it is “the biggest city in the entire world /and one finds in it twelve hundred bridges.”

Europa Prima Pars Terrae in Forma Virginis, 1581. Hauslab-Liechtenstein Map Collection. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Europa Prima Pars Terrae in Forma Virginis, 1581. Hauslab-Liechtenstein Map Collection. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

According to former Geography and Map Division Chief Walter Ristow’s 1978 article on the collection, the anthropomorphic map, shown above, depicts Europe in the shape of Queen Elizabeth I of England. It is titled Europa Prima Pars Terrae in Forma Virginis. The choice to show Europe as a queen, and decisions of how to incorporate specific areas into the thematic image, may lend insight into the political orientation of the mapmaker. Spain is portrayed as the crown, head, and neck of the queen. The left arm represents Italy, with the royal orb in the queen’s hand symbolizing Sicily. The right arm shows Denmark. Modern-day Germany and France make up the torso, while the lower half of the queen’s dress depicts the landmass of what is today Eastern Europe, the Balkan states, and Greece. The queen’s jewelry and the decorative components of her dress depict the various mountain ranges, rivers, and other geographic features of Europe. The narrative key describes these elements in great detail, inserting commentary and using metaphor to describe aspects of the image to the observer.

Both maps possess a short Latin inscription on the illustrated side, which is supplemented by a narrative key in German, printed in an older typeface known as Fraktur, on the reverse.

Reverse side of Asia Secunda Pars Terrae in Forma Pegasi, 1581. Hauslab-Liechtenstein Map Collection. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Reverse side of Asia Secunda Pars Terrae in Forma Pegasi, 1581. Hauslab-Liechtenstein Map Collection. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

These maps represent a small portion of the diverse and expansive Hauslab-Liechtenstein map collection. I have greatly enjoyed working with the collection and am eager to explore its contents further while also making the collection more accessible for researchers.

One Comment

  1. Robert Schlesinger
    July 19, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    Beautiful examples of zoomorphic and anthropomorphic maps. Hopefully some examples of the amazing zoomorphic and calligraphic-zoomorphic maps from the classical Islamic world, will also be posted. These are quite rare and interesting in many ways.

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