Thursday, May 16, 2019

Sea Monsters & Fantastical Beasts of America

Jean-Baptiste-Louis Franquelin was the first official cartographer in Canada. Franquelin first arrived in Canada as a trader in 1671. The Governor of New France soon employed him as a cartographer. Franquelin's 'Carte Genlle. de la France Septle' is just one of the many maps of North America produced by Franquelin for the Governor of New France. The map was made with the help of Father Jacques Marquette and explorer Louis Joliet after their 1673 voyage along the Mississippi River.

Cartographic Beasts is an interactive tour of the many wonderful beasts depicted on Franquelin's 1675 map. Most of the animals depicted on the map, such as deer, rabbits and bears, are real. However a few of the beats seems a little fantastical, particularly the manitous, which Franquelin described as having "horns like a deer, red eyes, (and) a beard like a tiger".

The joy of Cartographic Beasts is being able to explore the wonderful drawings of the North American animals in close detail. The descriptions which accompany each of the creatures featured on the map include a judgement on whether the illustrated beast is real or fantastical.

North America is not the only land where fantastical beasts are known to roam. Wonderful creatures can also be found in Scandinavia. At least many strange beasts are shown on Olaus Magnus’ Carta marina. The Carta marina is the earliest map of the Nordic countries that includes place names. The map depicts an area which includes the modern countries of Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Estonia and Latvia. It also includes a number of fanciful sea beasts just waiting to be rediscovered.

Slate has created an interactive map of Magnus’ beautiful 1539 Carta marina. This means that you can use Slate's map in your search for mythical creatures. The Carta marina is brimming with wonderful sea monsters. Slate has made each of the monsters selectable on their interactive map. Users of the map are therefore able to click on each of the monsters and read how Olaus Magnus described the monster in his own commentary to the map.

Modern maps are also sometimes known to feature the odd sea monster or two. Telegeography's 2015 Submarine Cable map was inspired by medieval and renaissance cartography and therefore features not only a vintage map style with map border illustrations but also a number of scary sea monsters.

The sea monsters featured on the Submarine Cable map are actually taken from real vintage maps. These mythical sea monsters are each accompanied on Telegeography's map with a little text which references the historical map the creature first appeared on.

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