Monday, January 11, 2010

Maps as Propaganda

Illustrated map of Europe with countries turned into people and animals
This remarkable map (another find from my basement) was reprinted in a cartographic calendar I had a long time ago. I don't know its source (I threw that part of the calendar away!) but it has a rubber stamp on it from the British Museum dated 1879.

The labels are in German, and its point of view is clearly German as well: Russia is a voracious fox or wolf ready to gobble up its neighbors, while heroic, sharp-eyed Germany grasps his sword in readiness.

Here's what the other countries are up to:

  • France is sharpening his blade, while keeping an eye on Germany
  • Spain is taking a siesta and keeping its foot on Portugal
  • Italy is dangling Sicily on a string (Sicily is wearing a barrel, which I assume means its people are poor)
  • Ireland is a whiny baby -- bib and all
  • England surveils the continent, while sitting atop Scotland
  • Mother Austria tries to hold back her child, labeled Uncarn (Hungary), as he faces off with Russia
  • Bizarrely, Sweden is holding a box labeled "safety matches"... not sure what that means
  • Denmark turns its back on Germany, sporting a bandage (?) as if it has a toothache
Wish I knew more about it, but that's all I know. Cool, huh?


Marsha Qualey said...

Very cool.

Blythe said...

Safety matches are a Swedish invention (like dynamite). It could be that it refers to the humanitarian advancement, but it is more likely a comment on commercial monopoly. A very interesting map, that's certain.

Daughter Number Three said...

Thanks, Blythe. I could have done a bit more research on those matches. That makes perfect sense.

elena said...

Very cool..weirdly creepy. I interpret the safety matches as perhaps the power to ignite a conflict (Russia so close to Sweden, too).