Niece #1 recently acquired a vintage wall map of Brazil that is so stunningly beautiful that when I saw it for the first time I was shut down mid-sentence and just stood there, mouth open, gaping at it.
This inspired me to bring out of cold storage, and find a hanging space for, one of my treasures.
Now, the "Belgian Congo" was one of the great unambiguous atrocities of modern world history, so as a historical artifact this map is tainted by what your philosopher of cartography might call its reification of King Leopold's personal slave state.
But damn, it's beautiful.
And in addition to the rich historical specifics, it has an awful lot to say about time, change, and the enduring, and about how the way we describe the world really does turn out to color the way we experience it and the way that things happen in it, even if not necessarily in the strict linguistic sense.
Check this out: the LEGENDE, along with its lovely TEINTES HYPOSMETRIQUES, locates Missions catholque et Missions protestante. On a map 2500 kilometers across!
And maybe this is what makes this map so fascinating: it tells us so much more about the mindset of its makers than it does about the place they thought they were describing.
TRAVAIL ET PROGRES * L'UNION FAIT LA FORCE!