Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Aire Globe


Cartography, History, Imagery of Elements


On old maps, frequently there are ornamental drawings in the four corners. An example is a representation of the four directions.


North, South, East and West.

Or the four elements.

Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

They had meanings to the ancients, middle age and renaissance cartographers and mapmakers.

These were accompanied by drawings that symbolized the elements. This egg shaped bead has a drawing of the element 'AIRE' on one side.

Some authories say the four "arms" of the Celtic Cross I posted about earlier represent the four elements (fire, earth, air, and water), or the four directions of the compass, and still others feel it is a representation of human existence - mind, body, soul and heart.


The idea of the four elements dates from pre-Socratic eras, and continued on through the middle ages. It's also found in European and Asian cultures, such as ancient India, China and Japan.

The elements are a basis of Hinduism and Buddhism, and include a fifth element to describe things that were not of the earth but were beyond the material world or non-matter. Like the heavens, stars in the sky.

Most maps use latin as the language to communicate between cultures, but some more popular maps use German and were for common use, printed in common term language, with banners announcing their purpose and the mapmaker's name at the bottom.

Small circular illustrations may suggest different ways to look at the world, such as the four elements, these illustrations were made using a printing process from a woodblock and are part of late medieval culture, sometimes including a circle of land surrounded by an ocean sea.

I love the ideas represented by these ancient images. This egg-shaped bead has a spot on the bottom for a dangle to be added, and a generous loop at the top for a chain, seed bead necklace or ornament hanger to go in to finish the design.

Oval shaped, with faux crystals at the bottom like a pointer on a compass, and the filigree top, this pendant reminds me of antique compasses on sailing vessels.

3 comments:

Dave Robertson said...

Llyynn, you rock. You have put together some fantastic ornaments using one of the neatest design elements possible. Maps are such eye-catching things... Good work!

--Dave
at Rings & Things

Erin said...

I love this post Lynn! Very informational. The 4 elements,the 4 directions and the 4 seasons, I use these ancient concepts for the inspiration in my work as well!

LLYYNN said...

I'm crazy about antique and vintage maps! when I travel I collect odd little things like subway maps, walking tours drawings, all kind of things like that! Thanks for the kind words, I really related to symbolism and hidden meanings.

Even little maps of the highway system are cool, if you use them in a necklace pendant!