Blog Topic #7


See if you can discover the origins and meaning of this image of the world in a fool’s cap. Google World in a Fools Cap… and take it from there.

It was very interesting to do this research about the unquestionable mystery of the map in a Fools Cap. This are the relevant informations I found about this enigma.

The Fool’s Cap Map of the World remains a mystery to historians and cartographers: it is not known yet where and by whom it was made. His mystery lies in the fact that it he is unknown ‘why, when, where, and by whom it was made’. The only thing that can be said with certainty is that it dates back to 1580/1590. The map shows the world dressed in the traditional dress of a court clown; it instantly strikes you because the picture of the jester’s outline is very detailed. The face is hidden, or replaced by the map that makes the image threatening  and disturbing, giving it an inhuman look


The archetype of the fool, in his  incarnation of the court clown, is the first indicator of the deeper meaning of the map. In previous ages the king’s jesters, were the only people who were allowed to mock “his majesty,” and to tell the truth about the power of the absolutism of the monarchy. These critiques could therefore only be accepted if said by the grotesque figure of the fool, preferably a hunchback or a dwarf, someone who could not be taken too seriously.

Towards the end of the 16th century, all those who saw this map knew very well the kind of mechanism that allowed the crazy to tell its truth. In this case is the map itself to tell an uncomfortable truth. The world is a dark, irrational place and very dangerous; life is short, unpleasant and brutal. The world is literally a foolish world.

It is interesting to notice how some biblical traces, disseminated across the map, complain about the vanity of the world and the stupidity of those who love it. Isn’t  this is what we do on this planet? The vanity of humanity is calamity, a misfortune.  After all, we all know that we only find truths in the Fool’s Cap Map!

A way of reading the image suggests that all seemingly universal truths, all that seem worthy of trust, or authoritative maps, are partial and unreliable as they hide a hidden social order” – David Turnbool

“The laughing Jester”, 15th Century, Stockholm.

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