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World Views – Flat representations of the Earth based on religious and philosophical beliefs

from 978-3-14-100790-9 from page 182 fig. 1
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World Views – Flat representations of the Earth based on religious and philosophical beliefs
The Alignment of World Views
All cultures seem to have charted a basic, circular form as representative of the earth's shape. The basis for this picture of Planet Earth was the view that the earth was a disk in the infinite ocean.
The contents of the globe varied significantly and were geared to a particular cultural group and were involved in the philosophical tradition. For example, the centre of the world, as the religious centre, for Christians is Jerusalem and Mecca for Islamists. These typical old earth representations decreased with the increasing recognition of environmental knowledge and movement towards the edges into pure legends.

Individual worldviews
Map a) of the Arab world, comes from the most famous Arab cartographer Al Idrisi (1099–1166). It reflects the large geographical knowledge in Islamic regions and suggests the long-distance trade contact between Arabs. Notable are the representations of Europe and Asia, with knowledge reaching to the Far East. There are also numerous mountain ranges which are located in the correct position on the map. In Africa, the Nile area was especially known for using the lunar mountains set as the source of the Nile and the second West Nile flowing are put into the realm of legend. The good representation of East Africa was the result of trade relations.
The European world view of medieval Christianity, represented on the London Psalter world map from the 13th Century, shows a circular view of the world which is derived from the Roman round maps.
The representation of the earth was not the image of reality, but became a symbol of the Christian idea of the world. The earth is surrounded by the ocean facing east, with the upper half taken up by Asia. At the centre is Jerusalem, with the lower half shared by Europe and Africa. The continents are separated by waters which are shaped like a T. The vertical bars are the Mediterranean Sea and the traverse are the Red and Black Seas.
The Islamic Arab map c) of the world shows cosmographers from the 14th Century. This world map is in the theological tradition of the Koran. The graphical style of Islamic art is typically with the decorative board, with their typical smooth coastlines and striking colours. The map is framed by a border formed by the legendary Kaf Mountains.
The "Devil's Seat" is situated in the south east. Mecca is located on the centre of the map. The Persian Gulf above left and the Mediterranean Sea below, is the combined ocean that surrounds the world. The Nile and Tanis (Don) flow into the Mediterranean Sea. The map shows three continents, Africa lies below, beyond the sources of the Nile the country would be uninhabitable. Europe is located top left with Constantinople highlighted by the Crescent.
The Chinese world view d) was preserved through hand drawings until the 17th Century. Real and mystical beliefs were intertwined on these types of maps. China, the "Middle Kingdom", is located in the centre of a square continent. The two neighbouring countries, Korea and Japan are also recorded. The circular continent in the ocean is a mystical country.
F. Forster; Ü: C. Fleming

Keywords: China christianity Earth islam religion the World world view/view of the world

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