TITLE: The Beatus Maps: Turin
DATE: ca. 776 A.D.
AUTHOR: Beatus of Liebana (died 798)
DESCRIPTION: The famous Turin map of the 12th century, measuring
39 X 27.5 cm, was once supposed to be a medieval design of the first importance,
is thought by Konrad Miller to be a derivative of the Gerona map.
In the text of the Commentary i llustrated by this map, though surprisingly
not displayed on the map itself, stress is laid on the dispersion of the
twelve apostles. It is not now thought to be so ancient or so important
as once supposed; but since it has been before the modern world for almost
two centuries, far longer than any other Beatus map, it has therefore become
a classic in medieval cartography. Its remarkable peculiarities have naturally
made the Turin map a favorite subject of reproduction. Although the celebrated
wind-blowers, so prominent here, are also to be found in other medieval
mappaemundi, their execution on this Beatus derivative are far more
vigorous and detailed; each wind-spirit being seated on a sack or Aeolus-bag
out of which they are squeezing a lively 'blast of air'. It is fairly certain
that in this shape the picture is not a feature of the prototype work of
776 A.D.; the simpler form of the wind-blowers in the 13th century Paris
III map has a greater claim in this respect. The idea must be recognized
as occurring in both the Osma and Valcavado families, which greatly strengthens
its pretensions to originality.
The Turin map omits both the boats and fishes in the great circling
ocean, and displays only nine rectangular islands, two of which remain unnamed.
The Mediterranean shows fourteen uniformly shaped islands, only six of which
are labelled. While no use of decorative houses/ castles/churches to symbolize
major centers can be found on this copy, the illustration of Adam and Eve
is still to be found traditionally at the top of the map (east). Several
rivers and mountain ranges are shown; Europe and Asia are specifically named
but there appears no label for the general area of Africa or Lybia; and
across the narrow sea, to the south, is, of course, the Antipodes.
** see also Slide #207 Monograph