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Thread: World Map Tapestry

  1. #1
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    World Map Tapestry

    So I'm trying to teach my son the basics. Reading, writing, arithmetic.

    And in doing so, naturally I find myself wanting to explain the origins of things. Also, he's five. Five year olds ask a lot of why questions. Why is his skin brown? Why do we count this way?

    I think that a lot of things go back to major population movements and cultural shifts. The echoes of all the past epochs of human history.

    So I've been craving a world map. Something big. Something more portable than a globe. Something more tactile than a book. Something he can touch and trace paths on.

    At first I was thinking of making a quilt. But then I gave myself a reality check - a simple quilt takes months of work, and I don't even sew - and I looked around and found a world map "tapestry" print on Amazon - a large sheet of cheap cloth - upon which is printed a beautiful, abstract, watercolor world map.

    So I bought it, and then I started researching exactly what I want to put on it.

    The project has officially commenced.
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

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    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    ^It looks like this.

    Layer 1 is complete!

    First I put down Out of Africa migration paths in dark red thread, using my mom's high tech sewing machine. It can also do embroidery. I found a pretty, tribal sort of design to mark the likely origins of homo sapiens in east Africa, also in the same red thread.

    I don't want to clutter it up with any text, so I'm still left with the question of how to mark different time periods. It would be really cool to trace exactly what is happening when.

    I also need to figure out exactly what other patterns I want to show. And whether or not they'll be paths or just symbols.

    Ideas:

    Major language families. I'm thinking the top six: Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, Niger-Congo, Austronesian, Afro-Asiatic, and Dravidian. Maybe some of the major native language families of the Americas as well. Even though their numbers are small, it's relevant to a lot of what we'll be talking about.

    It becomes a bit problematic because there's not a well agreed-upon origin/dispersal model for a lot of these, so I don't know if it would always make sense to have those same sort of paths. I can use a different sort of stitch for this one. Maybe a zigzag. And it would make sense to distinguish the different language families with different colored thread... But that could get pretty busy. @syntagmatic, thoughts?

    The development of agriculture. This would be a bit simpler because I think I wouldn't worry about spread so much as centers of origin. An embroidered symbol in the places where it independently originated it should suffice. But then I could also go down a rabbit hole of showing where herding originated, where different technologies originated, and so on... But I think agriculture is enough of a game changer that that one at least should not be in question.
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  3. #3
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    I come back to the question of time. I think it would be really really cool to be able to physically trace, as a path progresses, how much time is passing. It would be cool to see at a glance what things are happening simultaneously.

    I thought of doing a timeline at the bottom, but that would be.. too busy, too academic. Also would fail to accomplish the idea of feeling your way through time along each specific path. And you'd have to look back and forth from the bottom to the top, trying to keep track... No.

    Dates embroidered would make the most sense... But again, I don't want to clutter it up with text.

    A symbol would be cool. Something easy to stitch. Something that would quickly and - once you got the hang of it, intuitively - indicate how many thousands or tens of thousands of years we're talking about BCE.

    I don't think I'm going to worry about anything past, say... the classical age. Probably. Including the Americas might make it a little tricky.

    Hmmm.
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  4. #4
    Curious Conlanger syntagmatic's Avatar
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    That looks awesome!! As for using major language families, that might be problematic for the very reason you pointed out. Also, the names of some families could even be susceptible to change. The Sino-Tibetan family, for example, there's many historical linguists that argue the whole family should be called "Tibeto-Burman" (which is usually considered a branch of said family) because it's possible that the sinitic languages split off much later that conventionally thought, and there's currently no evidence to support either claim. Indo-European is of course the one with the most work done on it, but some of the other families might be a bit too speculative in some aspects, especially if you want to trace origin/dispersal.

    If I might make a suggestion, what about embroidering the world's writing systems on it? You could even trace the origin of some writing systems and include obsolete ones like cuneiform and/or Egyptian Hieroglyphs. The development of writing systems are generally easier to trace and more reliable than spoken language anyways for obvious reasons XD
    The Brain—is wider than the Sky—
    For—put them side by side—
    The one the other will contain
    With ease—and You—beside—
    The Brain is deeper than the sea—
    For—hold them—Blue to Blue—
    The one the other will absorb—
    As Sponges—Buckets—do—
    The Brain is just the weight of God—
    For—Heft them—Pound for Pound—
    And they will differ—if they do—
    As Syllable from Sound

    —Emily Dickinson

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    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    That's beautiful!

    ...Thinking about it, I think I'll stick with spoken languages, though. It covers more ground, so to speak, geographically. Still not 100% sure how I'll depict it visually. ...Maybe borders rather than radiating lines.

    Also I had an idea about time. I think I'll do a chain stitch with one symbol for 10,000 years and another symbol for 1,000 years. The chain will be in the same color as whatever other symbol and parallel to it, so it should be unobtrusive. But you should be able to read the amount of time with your fingers.

    So a path 100,000 years BCE will be something like this:

    **********
    --------------------------------etc

    And 7,000 BCE will be like this:

    ~~~~~~~
    ---------------------------------------------etc
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  6. #6
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Ok I've figure out exactly what stitches I'm using for the dates and I stitched them in to the first layer. It worked great!

    I mean it doesn't look that impressive. It's still just basically the printed sheet with a few lines and a few scraggly stitches on it. I'll have to go back in and clean up the stray threads eventually. But if you know what you're seeing and feeling, then it's really cool.

    I've decided that I will have a key at the bottom, and it will take the form of a timeline. To scale. No information on it other than the time symbols. One quarter inch = one thousand years.

    So it'll be like this:

    @@@--------------------------------------------------------------------------@@----------------------------------------------------------------------@-------------------------------------------------~---^-*-
    (-300,000 -200,000 -100,000 -10,000 -1,000 +1,000)



    Next step: Origins of Agriculture
    Last edited by TeresaJ; 09-27-2019 at 03:27 PM.
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

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    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    The final design has been stitched in. Now I'm just in the process of cleaning it up.

    It has four elements, distinguished primarily by color.

    Dark red arrows: Homo sapiens migration patterns, with an emblem showing the possible origin of the species.

    Golden grain emblems: Locations of the origins of agriculture.

    Dark blue wavy stitch borders: Demarcation lines of major language families. Within some of them there are dark blue arrows showing how the language spread, for those languages with a reasonable guess.

    Lavender straight stitch: A timeline across the bottom, indicating the date stitches (units of -100,000; -10,000; -1,000; +1,000).

    All of the above elements have date stitches, where there's a reasonable guess, in the corresponding color.

    Right now I'm just reinforcing some of the stitching, and then I have to wash out the guide ink. I'll post pictures once it's all done.

    Hopefully the stitches survive.

    So far I am quite pleased.

  8. #8
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    It's finished!

    I just took it out of the wash. The guide ink rinsed out with no problem, and all the reinforced stitching held up.

    Here's a sample showing North America:



    The lighting is really blue for some reason, but you can see the reddish straight lines (migration), blue wavy lines (language family demarcation) as well as the symbol for agriculture and the smaller symbols for the dates.

    This is the end of the timeline, just to give an idea of scale. The sewing machine sometimes would zig-zag when it switched to a different pattern, so it looks a little odd, but you can see the symbols for -10,000 BCE; -1,000 BCE; and 1,000 CE.

    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  9. #9
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Meanwhile the kiddo is working on his own timeline. He took the horses out of his village, put in power lines, and here he is about to introduce gas-powered cars.

    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Sinny's Avatar
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    Cool stuff!
    All truth passes through three stages:

    First, it is ridiculed.
    Second, it is violently opposed.
    Third, it is accepted as self-evident.


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