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Minas Tirith Forums » Library Council of Minas Tirith » Why do Dwarvish maps have East at the top? (Page 2)
Author Topic: Why do Dwarvish maps have East at the top?
Joe Stupid KingofBelfalas
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I have never seen a dwarvish map, where could I find one?
From: Philly | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Silmahtar
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Thror's Map, the one published in The Hobbit...

http://www.douglas.eckhart.btinternet.co.uk/maps-thrors-map-01.jpg

From: Vinya-Tárilos | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Joe Stupid KingofBelfalas
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Ohh Jeese, I havent looked throigh the Hobbit in quite some time. []
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Eruantalon
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Perhaps because the maps are made in the land of fairy tale...i don't know...just perhaps....but maybe that's the way Tolkien thought them up at the moment.

Jeeeezzzzz, you people act as if the most important reasons lie behind the most unimportant things....I really recommend permanent jobs for most of the people (er...uh...I mean: "drains on society") on this message board..............................................................................whatever................................congrats for reading this far......losers...oh, for pete's sake somebody ban me from this stinkin' message board!

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Q
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Eruantalon,

Unfortunately you are not insulting anyone by your shotgun bursts of slurs against everyone, but by your total lack of information on anything in the thread. This last comment was as unimaginative as to be worthy of the same kind of comments in every other thread you joined in on.

If you don't post a literary comment or theory and back it up somehow, at least join the conversation by offering your opinion on the subject...which means commenting on other people's opinions.

Believe it or not these are actually informed people who probably show the same care and insight in other areas of their lives as in a literary forum.

Try it...that's why it's here for you...to think something, and then to write what you thought.

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Earendilyon
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Congrats, Mandos. The first intelligable comment I read of yours! []

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John 3:16-21

From: Rivendell | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Q
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On the contrary Ear,

I make conclusions that other people would actually make in a forum. I have a point that I attempt to prove and get intelligible (if not slightly off the wall) responses from people. Then I give my intelligible (if not slightly off the wall) opinions to the contrary of theirs.

Eruantalon doesn't attempt to prove anything...yet.

There is hope for him if he has an interest on just one topic in the Proffesor's work and posts a comment or even a thread (which I have done several times).

[ 02-24-2006, 03:59 AM: Message edited by: MANDOS ]

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Earendilyon
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I just meant to say that I understood your post and that it was the first post of yours I did understand []

[As opposed to this last one, btw [] It may be my incapability of course [] ]

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"For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me."

John 3:16-21

From: Rivendell | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Q
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Don't worry Ear, almost all the time my reasoning twists curlicues through the mists of my mind that even I can't understand, because the mists settle again before I can prove that curlicues actually went through it.
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Snöwdog
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quote:
Why do Dwarvish maps have East at the top?
When you're underground so much its hard to keep a sense of direction?

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From: In the Shadows of Annuminas | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Q
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I think they'd have a pretty good idea of dirrections in general for the very fact that they knew their way around their own caves. After one hundred years Thorin made mention of the lower halls, and led his companions through the upper halls in the dirrection of the main gate...and this in the dark.

If they were honestly puzzled about the dirrection of "up" on a map, then they'd be confused about everything else on it. No dwarf would be able to carry on business with the outside world, which doesn't explain their reclusiveness as much as it suggests that we are wrongly interpreting why they made their maps sideways.

[ 03-24-2006, 04:30 PM: Message edited by: MANDOS ]

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Talan
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A few thoughts:

First, I don't recall ever seeing any dwarven maps other than Thror's map. Perhaps it is simply my limited knowledge of Tolkien's less-prominent work. But can we definitively say that ALL dwarven maps show East as Up? Perhaps they select the orientation of the cardinal directions based upon the geographical features being mapped. Maybe they could show landmarks, features, and population centers that were important to them more efficiently and clearly if they altered which direction was "up" on a particular map.

Second, do we know which way was Magnetic North in Arda? As was mentioned before, The direction of the sun's rising and setting is different from that of Earth. And to us, East and West are defined by their relation to the direction of the Sun. Perhaps East is actually magnetic North. And if all dwarven maps do in fact show East as "up," then East as Magnetic North would make sense. As builders, architects, and metal workers, the Dwarves would surely have learned how to manipulate magnetic materials to find Magnetic North. And being the practical race that they are, it would not be surprising for them to orient their maps to it. Of course, this contradicts my previous point, but I'm just throwing things out there.

And one last, minor thing that is probably not relevant. But I remember that in the works of C.S. Lewis, Aslan's country was in the "utter East." Perhaps there is some unknown meaning they shared for the East. Or perhaps it was an affection for the East from the artistic and literate community in Tolkien's generation, or even leftover from the Romantic period. During the Romantic period (which, admittedly, some people contend is not yet over) in poetry and music, the East was highly romanticized as a place of mystery, magic and exotic beauty. It was also romanticized as a place of wonder where, some dreamily postulated, life was begun. In the case of Aslan's country, this is certainly true. In Tolkien's works, what lies to the east is very ambiguous, but the description of "were-worms" or "sand-worms" (something like that) by Bilbo in the "Last Desert" certainly has a ring of mystery and exoticness to it. Even those parts of the far east that are shown on Tolkien's map of Middle Earth are rarely mentioned and remain somewhat mysterious. Perhaps the Dwarves were intrigued by its mystery? Or was there any significance to the East in Dwarven lore?

[ 03-24-2006, 06:50 PM: Message edited by: Talan ]

From: Austin, TX. Home of awesome. | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Q
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Talan,

I've been looking at Thror's map, and I think that you might have stumbled upon the answer. You said that the map could have been drawn in the dirrection that it did in order to give special meaning to the features of mountains, etc. that were on the map.

Well, you were half right...it was drawn so that the hand pointing to the side door would only be understood to be pointing to the side door. If the hand marking were at the bottom of the map, then it might be pointing into mirkwood. If it was drawn at the top of the map then you'd miss the location of where it was pointing altogether. And it would be even worse if the dwarves had put it on the righthand side of the map, because the hand would be pointing to the main entrance...so, the writting that went with the hand would be saying that the main entrance was actually the secret entrance, which clearly cancels out the idea that a secret entrance was there.

The dirrection of the map's drawing was to make room for the secret door's location to be written. And the writting would be on it's side if the map was turned to put the mountain in the north at the upper righthand corner of the map, thus further complicating an approach to the mountain from the west.

It would already be complicated enough because, if you'll notice at the bottom of the map there is no road leading from the edge of Mirkwood to either laketown or the mountain. There are no travel options for lost dwarves who are comming from anywhere beyond Mirkwood. So the purpose of this map was not for travelling. But it's purpose was to confuse anyone who shouldn't have gotten their hands on it, by 1. Writting the secret letters on the side, in the OPPOSITE dirrection of the main gate (anyone who didn't know about moon letters would go for the main gate), and 2. Leaving the Mirkwood route uncharted. This is why I think that Thror should have gone to Dane's people, and why they were meant to. An additional reason to verify this is the warning at the bottom of the page where Mirkwood is drawn: there are spiders. There must have been a power struggle between escapies of the mountain as to where to go. Thorin wouldn't have remembered this at all, because he was so young at the time.

Aside: Since it was on the left hand side of the map, dwarves clearly read their books from left to right.

[ 03-24-2006, 09:16 PM: Message edited by: MANDOS ]

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Talan
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I think I didn't make myself clear enough. What I was getting at was that the map might have been drawn this way because the landmarks that mattered to the dwarves may have simply fit better, with less wasted space and parchment (or whatever the map was drawn on--probably not parchment or paper, since it lasted so long). What I'm saying is that the dwarves could have adapted the cardinal directions of their maps depending on the amount and dimensions of land that they wanted to map. They might not bother to map empty territory that was inconsequential to their trading and travel activities. Or, maybe it just didn't particularly matter whether North was "up" on their maps, so long as North was indicated somehow. If you think about it, it's really something of a trivial thing. As a composer, I don't write every piece in the key of C and add sharps and flats where they happen. I just go ahead and put it in the key that fits it best.

Ugh...I can't even explain myself clearly right now. Good night!

[ 03-24-2006, 10:33 PM: Message edited by: Talan ]

From: Austin, TX. Home of awesome. | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Q
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I'm still pretty sure there was a power struggle...because notice that Thorin didn't meantion the treasure to Dane until after he knew he couldn't have it all to himself, until after the Elf King was at his front door? Since Thorin figured out that the map was made to confuse anyone, or even any dwarf, who didn't flee to the Iron Hills after Smaug took the mountain, because it didn't include the forest road if you were comming from the west, he thought that he might beat the purposefully drawn confusion/complication on the map by not letting Dane in on the secret of the hidden treasure.

If your just reading this and don't know what I'm talking about, please refer to my last post if you have any questions.

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Thingol of Doriath
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Hidden treasure? Every Dwarf, Elf, Man and Goblin knew of the treasure... including Dain. Honestly, have you read the book? Tolkien wrote good books without you constantly trying to rewrite them.

quote:
If your just reading this and don't know what I'm talking about
We never know what you are talking about... []
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Roll of Honor Meneldil
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Just wishing to dispel the idea that Thror's map was an anomaly:
From the preface to The Hobbit:
quote:
On the Map the compass points are marked in runes, with East at the top, as usual in dwarf-maps
(Bold added)
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Lord Glorfindel
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Well done indeed.

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From: I grew up in Europe, where History is from. | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Q
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Yes Meneldil,

But in the Preface it also says a few words after this that you could "read it clockwise", and to do this you could start anywhere as long as you go in the dirrection of right. You could flip the map to the right and read North at the top, then bring it down left to go right and get East, which is the proper way to read a map.

[ 03-25-2006, 08:10 PM: Message edited by: MANDOS ]

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Roll of Honor Meneldil
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Ok, so the question could be reworded: Why do Dwarf maps have their writing aligned with East? - stop twisting words just to be obtuse, no one would (sane) would say that our maps don't have North at the top - same goes for Dwarf maps, but East.

[ 03-25-2006, 04:28 PM: Message edited by: Meneldil ]

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Talan
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No, it doesn't need rewording. When you corrected me earlier you made it perfectly clear that Tolkien's own words were the following:

quote:
On the Map the compass points are marked in runes, with East at the top, as usual in dwarf-maps
Mandos, (I'm tired of typing your name in all capitals...it makes me feel like I'm shouting), my suggestions were a bit off the wall, which is why I tried to stress the fact that they were merely meant to open up some smaller, less likely avenues for consideration.

Everything you have said in this thread has been less about persuing an answer to the question, and more about trying to make yourself look intelligent. And honestly, your suggestions have been so off-the-wall that they do the opposite.

The reason I rarely post in the literary forums is because I recognize that my knowledge of Tolkien's work is limited...far more limited than most (probably all) of the citizens who post up North regularly. So I read the threads and on very rare occasions make suggestions, but I don't profess to know anything beyond my own experience and field of expertise. Mandos, you don't know what you're talking about. So do what I do: If you don't know what you're talking about, stop talking!

[ 03-25-2006, 04:46 PM: Message edited by: Talan ]

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Q
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Talan, I've gone back and edited what I beleave should be taken out (which is a speculation) and kept in one good question (which is a fact). Sorry for the trouble. :O)
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Tuor
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I read something at another site which I believe is important enough to share here.

He said that according to Hammond and Scull's book 'JRR Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator', Thror's map was originally oriented to the North.

It was only after Tolkien needed to make an adjustment to make the mape fit in the book did Dwarf maps become oriented to the east.

The note that Dwarf maps always face east wasn't included until the 3rd edition.

I don't have that book, but if I come across it I'll definitely try to see it first hand.

***The guy who posted it is an excellent Tolkien scholar***

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The Real Beren
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What are those maps Earendilyon shown?Mordor in the 21st century?
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Roll of Honor Wandering Tuor
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This is the version of Thror's map from the original manuscript of The Hobbit, which didn't go beyond the first chapter. (It is from The Annotated Hobbit, page 10.) The book notes that the compass in the center has Ursa Major in the "north" position, the Gates of Morn to the east, the mountains of Valinor to the west, and the sun (apparently) to the south. In any case it is clear that the map has north at the top because the River Running runs to the bottom of the picture (south).

 -

Below is Thror's Map, Copied by B. Baggins, in a somewhat later version which Tolkien sent to Allen & Unwin. It is from JRR Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, page 92. Again, north is at the top; you can see from the note on the left side, To the west lies Mirkwood the Great. This book tells the story that Tuor mentioned: namely, that Tolkien wanted Thror's Map to appear within the text itself, laid out like a page of text (i.e. more long that wide), but A&U refused (because of cost concerns); the map ultimately was inserted as an endleaf, in a "landscaped" (more wide than long) layout. Only when the Map was redrawn as a landscaped endleaf did it acquire the "east at the top" arrangement; the book notes that this layout was typical of medieval topographical maps.

 -

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