Landscapes written in the skin
Maps hold me. The collection I marked during my ‘sabbatical’ exploration of personal unknown England. My afternoon with the Hereford Mappa Mundi’s medieval worldview squashed onto a sheet of vellum. First Nations hunters’ dream-maps, recalled in Anticipatory history: “a piece of moosehide as large as a tabletop … ‘Up here is heaven; this is the trail that must be followed; here is a wrong direction; this is where it would be worst of all to go; and over here are all the animals. They explained that all of this had been discovered in dreams.'” My own dreams of floating above unreal landscape-map hybrids, still real years later.
And, in The Library of Ice, Nancy Campbell revisits Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum, seeking “an object that I haven’t been able to get out of my thoughts: the skin of a seal on which an outline of the Bering Strait has been painted. Did the irregular shape of the skin suggest a map to the artist? The coastlines of America and Russia almost follow its edge … just enough to fit in a vignette of figures firing arrows at a bear, or a herder leading his reindeer.”
All become dream-maps, written in skin?