The Psalters Medieval Maps

The Psalter medieval map depicts the earth as a circular piece of land surrounded by a narrow ocean. The Eastern part of the Earth is indicated at the top of the map while Asia occupies the top half of the map. The Mediterranean is depicted in the center of the lower portion of the map; Africa occupies the lower right side of the map while Europe occupies the lower left. The representation of the earth and the various continents in the Psalter map is a clear replication of what is observed in the Hereford mappamundi. Just as the Hereford mappamundi, the Psalter map also had additional applications apart from being used as a tool for geographical guidance across the world.


The images and the events depicted in the Psalters map had significant religious meaning. It is observed that the Garden of Eden is marked at the top of the map that is East. The faces of Adam and Eve are also seen within the Garden of Eden that is presented in a circular manner. Just as the Hereford mappamundi, the five rivers of paradise are also seen flowing in this section. This section of the map clearly indicates the features that were present in the garden of Eden by just looking at this part of the map; the viewer can internalize the features and the human nature that were present in the garden of Eden. One does not have to travel to the Far East to have a visualized and imagined appearance of the Garden of Eden. The Psalters Mappamundi has succeeded to provide a pilgrimage to the Garden of Eden to various viewers who opt to study the map rather than making physical trips to the region.
The center of the Psalters mappamundi is a bull’s eye that depicts and represents the city of Jerusalem. Just as mentioned above, the city of Jerusalem was considered a holy city is owing to the fact that the temptations, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus took place within the city. The Islamic religion also believed that Jerusalem is a sacred place because Muhammad also ascended into heaven from the city. Certain landmarks within the city provide further explanations on the holiness and sacred nature of the site. The Psalter mappamundi is smaller in comparison with the Hereford mappamundi, and so detailed features and sacred structures within the city of Jerusalem have not been depicted in the map. For instance, the map has omitted the crucifixion site as well as the tomb that is considered sacred features in the city. Moreover, buildings such as the Tower of Babel and the neighboring cities such as Sodom and Gomorrah have not been shown in this part of the map. As much as the viewers of this particular medieval map cannot achieve the physical pilgrimage of the eye to these sacred places, it is important to note that imagined pilgrimage to the city of Jerusalem is likely to be accomplished by viewing the Psalter mappamundi. Christians have information on the various sacred places that were presented in Jerusalem, hence by just seeing the buildings within the city, even when they are not clearly labeled, one can accomplish a spiritual pilgrimage to this holy city. Psalter mappamundi, therefore, has the ability to offer spiritual and imagined pilgrimage to the city of Jerusalem even when the map does not clearly show the sacred features that are physically present in the city.
The southern rim of the Psalter mappamundi depicts different kinds of cannibals, monstrous humans, headless men, human lacking noses, eyes or ears and dog-heads. These figures mainly represent the evil side of life. Jesus is presented as a figure presiding over the earth. The image indicates that he places the world while holding a small orb in his hands. Jesus is depicted to be bordered by two angels that swing the incense containers besides him. A pair of dragons and wyverns who were present at the southern part of the map crouches below Jesus. These images and figures have purely spiritual meaning. The images as presented indicate the different kinds of individuals that are likely to be involved in sin. It is reported that the Christians believed that these individuals could be converted to become better Christians. Moreover, the Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the redeemer of these individuals who have gone astray. This explains why the dragons are seen kneeling at the feet of Jesus. This images on the dragons that represents the sinners mainly talks of redemption and the possible activities that are likely to occur when one repent. By looking and studying the map, the viewer can go through an imagined pilgrimage or a spiritual pilgrimage on how to seek for forgiveness from Jesus Christ. From the Christianity perspective, believers know that forgiveness for any form of wrongdoing is sought from Jesus. Thus, viewing of the map enhances the ability of an individual to be engaged in a form of redemption with Jesus. Through imagination, one can ask for forgiveness by exploring the images and the occurrences on the map that depicts the redemption case. The Psalter mappamundi is, therefore, capable of offering imagined pilgrimage to individuals who would wish to travel to the sacred places in sought of redemption from Jesus Christ.
The Psalter map has series of pages of miniatures that shows the life of Christ. These pages were added onto the map in the late 13th century. The added scenes on the map depict the Nativity scene, Adoration of the Magi, crucifixion, Annunciation, Christ stepping out of the tomb and Christ in Majesty. These additional scenes have further improved the spiritual significance of the map to any Christian viewer. Taking a pilgrimage to these holy places will require one to move to the city of Jerusalem. Nevertheless, this can still be achieved by looking at the images as they are presented in this map. The ordering of the events as they occurred in Jerusalem has not been clearly depicted in the map. By having the resurrection scene preceding the crucifixion scene in the map means that the cartographers were not orderly in their painting and illumination of the scenes. Nevertheless, the spiritual significance of the map can still be accomplished owing to the fact that most of the viewers who would want to have a pilgrimage of the eye to these places have background information on the scenes and the events. As such, their viewing will just be for them to have an imagined pilgrimage to the places that will further build their spiritual life.
The images and events indicated in the Psalter mappamundi are limited in comparison to those observed in the Hereford map. The major concern of the map is on the mighty nature of Jesus as well as his involvement as a king and ruler to the earth. The map also displays the Earth as a region full of sinful creatures that are depicted by the funny creatures and dragon. Being the ruler of the Earth, Jesus is depicted as the leader of the earth and as the one responsible for redeeming the people from their sinful acts. This map does not indicate the sacred features and events that occurred at the beginning of the World such as the Garden of Eden and the events that took place during the movement of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan. Nevertheless, the mighty nature of Jesus and his involvement in various activities as the ruler of the world have been clearly depicted in the map. The viewers of this map are capable of having an imagined pilgrimage on the nature of sins that will be observed on the earth and the approaches that one is required to take not to be involved in sin and to ask for forgiveness from Christ once engaged in any form of sin. The depiction of Christ while performing his role as the ruler of the earth is evident needed in the justification of the holy nature of Jesus Christ and reasons why Christians are required to live according to his teachings and will.