440 Year Old Maps — Filled With Footprints and Hoofprints

❝ At the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, 19 maps, nearly 440 years old, are on display — and they look spectacular. “Works on paper are delicate so we’re only allowed to put them on display for nine months out of 10 years,” says Blanton Museum communications director Carlotta Stankiewicz.

❝ The Mapping Memory exhibition contains work by indigenous mapmakers from the late 1500s. The maps demonstrate a very different sense of space than maps drawn by Europeans. They’re not drawn to scale; instead, they’re deeply utilitarian.

A map of Culhuacán, for example, shows rivers running straight, with tiny arrows in the middle, indicating which way they flow. The pathways curve like snakes, with footprints or hoofprints indicating whether the paths can be walked or ridden.

❝ Throughout the colonial period and particularly in the late 1500s, “the indigenous ways were very much alive,” says Rosario Granados who curated this exhibition. She believes it’s important to stress that “the conquest didn’t mean a complete destruction of that splendor.”

Not that Imperial Spain didn’t try.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

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