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Old Sea Map with Monsters January 8, 2008

Posted by cantueso in drawing.
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There is a famous map called Carta Marina. It is about 500 years old, depicts the North of Europe and includes sea monsters.
The monsters are seen attacking the ships and each other.

The map is in public domain at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carta_Marina.jpeg

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two-ships-and-monsters1

Some monsters look like big fish, others more like serpents and crabs, and many have the faces of humans looking stupid, as if establishing a correlation between stupidity and evil.

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red-sea-monster-serpent

The geography is all wrong, as the map is based on the sailors’ ideas and memories rather than on any calculations.
The problem is that now one cannot take these pictures serious anymore. Their terror has become our entertainment.

The red sea serpent would be about the size of Rhode Island and it bites into a ship as if it were a bocadillo.

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portero-monster

And don’t they look as if they were walking on the surface of the water?
The monster on the left has feet like a dog and seems to enjoy her conversation with that mustached neighbour of hers. –

The pictures are from the map shown above in public domain at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carta_Marina.jpeg

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swimmer-in-danger

The swimmers, too, were at risk.
The fish that attack the swimmer are all as big as he is, but the monster that attacks the fish is many times bigger.

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sardine.jpg

There is another map called the Abraham Ortelius also featuring lots of zoology in the sea surrounding Iceland.

abraham_ortelius-islandia-ca_1590.jpg

Columbus would have had maps like these to figure out how to get to India which turned out to be America. These maps are from his time.

crcodile.jpg

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And here is another dream boy. It looks like he is going to eat the ship including passengers and crew.

march-monster.jpg

Why did they imagine the monsters all so big?

monster-1

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However, the  real monsters that live in the sea and have been photographed are smaller and much less dangerous.

The  picture of the walking fish is from mypettalks.com/content/gallery/fish/ where however  I could no longer find it. The picture of the wrinkled fish is from Wikipedia and is linked to the large original.

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deep ocean fish

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Mola_mola_ocean_sunfish by  Fred Hsu  licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mola_mola_ocean_sunfish_Monterey_Bay_Aquarium_2.jpg.
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sea monster

See?
The monster is as big as an island and it is being attacked by a smaller monster that bites his belly. These are again fragments of the Carta Marina at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carta_Marina.jpeg

All of these monsters look evil, but they also have something sad or clueless in their faces, and their eyes are more expressive than those of common fish.

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.humpback anglerfish

This is a real monster, a deep sea fish from Wiki.
It says that 90% of the ocean’s volume is not accessible to humans.
It does not say why.

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And remember Melville’s White Whale?

Here are two spermwhales getting attacked by some little boats.

spermwhales fighting

The picture is in the Penguin edition of Moby Dick and on Ismael’s WordPress blog.
In literature there are many sea-monsters.
Here is an octopus that is larger than the ship it attacked….


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and a squid that got hold of a sailor:

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Added June 2, 2009:

In answer to some search keys received for this post:

Ortelius America

The map with all those monsters is not from the Middle Ages. These discoveries put an end to the Middle Ages.

One is by Olaus Magnus (1490 – 1557), and the other is by Abraham Ortelius (1527 – 1598).

On some of these maps you can also see how they used to build their ships:

those ships
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A very large  version of the America map is at the US library of Congress  http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/gmdhtml/

And the strange fact is that these monsters were still feared, drawn, and studied, and kids maybe had to learn their Latin names at school long after Columbus decided that the Earth had to be round and that there would be a way to reach the East by going west.

The photo is from NASA and free for non-commercial use at http://mix.msfc.nasa.gov/IMAGES/HIGH/9265044.jpg

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January 2013

Giant squid

1024px-Giant_squid_catalina2

Gravure d’un calmar géant échoué en 1877 sur la baie Trinity, à Terre-Neuve.
Giant squid beached in 1877 http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Giant_squid_catalina2.png . The author is not known. The etching is in public domain.

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Comments»

1. composeanalysis - January 8, 2008

That map is definitely fun to look at though, I spent a good half an hour looking through it all trying to make up reasons in my head for the different pictures portrayed on it.
Thanks for the link

2. Leuchtspur - January 11, 2008

Hello!
I think the monsters are the personification of the human horror of that who is beyond his well known knowledge and securtity.

3. cantueso - January 13, 2008

To Leuchtspur:

That is certainly so, but at that time, not so long ago, most of the Earth was unknown, most still legendary and terrific.

4. Kings (aka Reyes) - June 5, 2008

These monsters are all of them a bit outdated, considering they look as harmless as gold fish except of course in size. I think you’d better go on with your Bible studies. What the hell did they think painting beasties the size of Scotland?

5. engthj55 - November 6, 2008

You don’t seem to know that now the sea has again become dangerous because of pirates. They approach during the night and climb up and start shooting even before those on board realize what is going on. And then they order the ship to the shore and keep it there until the owners pay ransom.

6. München am Meer VIII: Carta Marina « Moby-Dick™ - January 12, 2010

[...] Danke an Fishing in the Past! [...]

7. Gracia Zanuttini - February 16, 2010

Thanks a lot an congratulations!! I really enjoyed this maps!

8. Leviathan - Usk ja Teadus - May 4, 2010

[...] Suur osa antiik merede kaartidel on kuvatud merekoletisi (suuri). Näiteid siin. [...]

9. tictact90 - August 12, 2010

I really like that sweet little octopus. Lovely.

10. Instrumentalista - September 20, 2010

“Old Sea Map With Monsters”- I am not certain why out of all of the photographs you have, all of their labels, all of their definitions; I happened to click and see this, I see your “Old Sea Map with Monsters”. Perhaps because I see not only I see monsters but for monsters have forever lived.

Hello there. Thank you for being a first to comment on my blog. Pleased to have met your blog. Katherine-

11. Karl Mach - February 13, 2011

I’m really interested in having this map Carta Marina, is a replica available for purchase ? thank you for showing these maps.

12. Karwan Ahmed sardashti ( Mohammadi H.office 042952) - October 4, 2011

Karwan Ahmed sardashti ( Mohammadi H.office 042952) for Viallant NES830565-01 on the piracy of india -kajol 1stm then Sehid-Sabald -Parthertove ways on Seniorite then Hittien

13. Kylee Nicole Johnson - December 15, 2011

Monsters are bad.

14. davidherrick - March 16, 2012

Thanks for the post. These are all new to me, and I LOVE EM!

15. Pamela Shanti Pack - March 18, 2012

Very cool! I have always thought that the Abraham Ortelius Iceland map had the best sea monsters…

16. andy pajarito - December 12, 2012

i like it much…so cool,very interesting!

17. Gail - June 16, 2013

I wanted to thank you for this great read!
! I absolutely loved every little bit of it.

I’ve got you bookmarked to look at new things you post…


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