"The Map of a Single province covered the space of an entire City."
May 15, 2007 8:50 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for maps "the same scale as the Empire."

Both Jorge Luis Borges and Lewis Carroll describe fictional 1:1 scale maps in which the map is as vast as what it represents.

What other 1:1 maps can be found in literature (or the real world, for that matter)? I'd also be happy if you point me towards other outlandish maps on par with the 1:1 map. Thanks.
posted by viewofdelft to Science & Nature (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Umberto Eco has a nice essay in How to Travel with a Salmon named "On the Impossibility of Drawing a Map of the Empire on a Scale of 1 to 1."
posted by fidelity at 9:04 AM on May 15, 2007

In a story in the recent collection Fragile Things Neil Gaiman describes a Chinese emperor ordering his underlings to build a large-scale map of China, then to rebuild it even larger, which ends up draining his kingdom's resources. Possibly reporting an earlier story about a real emperor?
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:17 AM on May 15, 2007

Steven Wright (comedian) has a bit about having a huge map of the United States, so huge it's the size of the United States. It says "one inch equals one inch."

In practical terms, you, too, could have this map, if you just wrote out that scale chart for yourself.
posted by one_bean at 9:21 AM on May 15, 2007

This is also the same set up to a Stephen Wright joke. It goes something like, "I've got a map to actual scale. On the legend it says 'one mile equals one mile.' Last Summer, I tried to fold it."

on preview, damn you one_bean!
posted by piratebowling at 9:23 AM on May 15, 2007

Does this help?

Outlandish maps... the four colour problem? Google maps oddities? XKCD's map of the internet? World's oldest map?

LobsterMitten: could that be inspired by the map in Qin Shi Huang's tomb?
Many wonders of the tomb were described by a Chinese historian, Sima Qian, writing less than a century after the emperor's death. He wrote of rare jewels, a map of the heavens with stars represented by pearls, and, on the floor of the tomb, a panorama map of China with the rivers and seas represented by flowing mercury.
posted by Leon at 9:25 AM on May 15, 2007

John Linnell of They Might Be Giants has a song on his solo album "State Songs" about a ship called the Arkansas which was built to "the exact dimensions and the shape of the state whose name she bore."

Highly recommended to TMBG fans, by the way.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 9:37 AM on May 15, 2007

There is the Mapparium at the Christian Science Center in Boston. You walk through the center of a giant stained-glass globe. It's not at 1:1 scale, but it is pretty amazing.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:43 AM on May 15, 2007

lyrics to the song Arkansas, which I also thought of when I read the question
posted by jepler at 9:45 AM on May 15, 2007

Which of the Hitchhiker's Guide books talks about a computer-based model of the universe being the size of the universe? (Would that count?)
posted by kimota at 9:46 AM on May 15, 2007

One of my favourite scenes in Blackadder Goes Forth is where Colonel Melchett is going over how much land has been captured from the enemy. Transcript here. (Search for "scale" on the page)
posted by djgh at 9:48 AM on May 15, 2007

Most cad file maps are drawn 1:1. Then you just scale it down to print them.
posted by JJ86 at 9:54 AM on May 15, 2007

In one of the epsodes of Blackadder Goes Forth (the fourth season, set during WW1), Blackadder enters General Melchard's office, and Melchard is studying a tabletop diorama/model map of the terrain recently captured in yesterday's Big Push in the bloody trench warfare. Blackadder inquires as to the scale, and it's 1:1... and it's not a diorama.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:06 AM on May 15, 2007

Larry Niven's Ringworld contains 1:1 scale maps of the Earth, Mars, and other (mostly fictional) planets from his "Known Universe."
posted by malocchio at 10:15 AM on May 15, 2007

Since we're talking Stephen Wright, he also has expressed an interest in getting "a life-size tattoo of [himself], only taller."
posted by monkeymadness at 10:26 AM on May 15, 2007

Also, since you mention wanting other kinds of maps, take a look at the lovely blog strangemaps. They have some great ones, and links to other map blogs.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:11 PM on May 15, 2007

Most cad file maps are drawn 1:1

CAD drawings are actually scaleless vectors. They're just printed out to a scale.
posted by signal at 7:48 AM on May 16, 2007

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