Cartography in Islamic Societies

In Islamic societies, cartographic activities were part of courtly patronage and diplomatic exchange, educational literacy and scientific study, religious rituals and reminiscence, entertainment and the arts, and to some extent of war, seafaring, and administration.

Many of the extant cartographic products are parts of manuscripts. Words, narratives, numbers, tables, and geometrical figures organize, structure, delineate, and interpret them. Books with maps form several topical categories as well as genres. They include cosmography, astronomy, history, and geography on the one hand and pilgrimage books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and miscellanies on the other. The most important types of cartographic products are world maps, regional maps of the Islamic world, and maps and diagrams of the prayer directions, the qibla. The first printed maps appeared in the early eighteenth century in Istanbul, first as single sheet maps, but quickly followed as parts of a book on the Old and the NewWorld, that is, Hajj? Khal?a's (d. 1067 h/1657) Cihannuma (version II). These printed maps adopted and adapted certain cartographic conventions, methods, and fields of interest that dominated cartography in early modern Catholic and Protestant societies in Europe. This was, however, neither the first nor the last encounter between the various cartographic traditions and practices as pursued in various societies around the Mediterranean basin. The length and depth of the history of these cross cultural encounters renders the notion of a history of cartography in welldefined geographical and cultural spaces that formed separate entities difficult to sustain.

Cartographic products independent of manuscripts or printed books appeared primarily in cultural fields outside the sphere of education and knowledge production. Navigation, war, water administration, architecture, landscape design, religious ritual, and gift giving were such domains where self contained cartographic products are known to have existed in several Islamic societies or are preserved in libraries, museums, and collections across the world. Military maps gained increasing importance during the nineteenth-century. In the twentieth century, private and state institutions for cartography and surveying were founded in Iran, Turkey, and Arab countries. They produced a broad variety of thematic maps, among them street maps, historical maps, meteorological maps, geological maps, and maps for tourism. These new cartographic products were supported by new methods and techniques of surveying, displaying, researching, measuring, and representing.

Cultures of Mapmaking

Cartographic Genres and Practices

Functions and Purposes

Cartography and Surveying in Iran in the Twentieth Century