With Love from our Cosmographic Heart

By neub9
3 Min Read

image of Hajji Ahmad's heart-shaped map
Hâcı Ahmed. Kemâliyle nakş olunmuş cümle cihan numûnesi. 1795. Geography and Map Division.

This Valentine’s Day we wanted to share something special with our readers – the unique beauty of the heart-shaped map created by Hajji Ahmad. This exquisite map, known as a cordiform projection, is one of only 24 impressions made in 1795. Originally carved into six cherry wood blocks in 1559–60, it wasn’t until the late-18th century that the maps were printed in a Venetian workshop, after resurfacing in the Council of Ten Archives. The original woodblocks are now held in the Biblioteca nazionale marciana in Venice.

The map, titled Kemâliyle nakş olunmuş cümle cihan numûnesi, translates to “the representation of the whole world depicted in its entirety” in English. Also known as the Mappamundi of Tunuslu Hajji Ahmad (or Hâcı Ahmed), it is the earliest printed wall map in the Library of Congress collections. This map also denotes the earliest evidence of the use of the cordiform projection system in the Geography and Map Division, conceptualized by Johannes Werner in 1514.

Surrounded by lovely vines and floral arabesques, the heart-shaped map features textual commentaries in Ottoman Turkish, along with four named continents and numerous place-names. Additionally, the eastern and western hemispheres are shown with a graduated scale connecting the poles, while 20 legends identify vital nautical, astronomical, and commerce locations. Celestial charts and an armillary sphere are also depicted in the margin.

This cosmographical masterpiece by Hajji Ahmad was based on the 1534 map created by French cartographer Oronce Finé. However, Hajji Ahmad’s map includes more place-names and a more accurately drawn American coastline.

image of Oronce Finés 1534 heart-shaped map
This map is part of the Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville collection, physically held in the National Library of France, and preserved digitally by the World Digital Library.             Oronce Finé. Recens et integra orbis descriptio. 1534. National Library of France.

If you’re feeling lonely this Valentine’s Day, don’t lose heart. Come and visit one or two of our heart-shaped maps in the Geography and Map Reading Room.

Learn more:

About the paper: Printing Maps on Oversized Paper: The 18th Century Paper Mills in the Toscolano District, part of the Topics in Preservation Series (TOPS).

About the text: V.L. Ménage, in the “The Map of Hajji Ahmed’ and Its Makers.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London: 1958.

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