Sunday Stamp 061: Al Idrisi and his map of the medieval world


It’s time for this week’s Sunday Stamp so I set aside my online search for Tysabri reviews so I could concentrate on my entry which is of special interest to me. I have to admit I had a tough time finding suitable stamps but I did manage to find one that I surprisingly liked after doing a bit of research. The theme is stamps that leave you wondering: what is this stamp trying to show? What does it commemorate, etc.?
So this stamp made me scratch my head in bewilderment. Do you see what I mean? What is the design? I thought the dark parts of the stamp look like black ants on a red (clay) surface. And what or who is Al Isidri?

A quick search from Mr. Gugel gave me a wealth of information about this stamp. The picture on the stamp is actually a world map that Al Idrisi made during the medieval ages. That excited me. You know how I love maps.
Al Idrisi was an Arab cartographer and geographer in the Middle Ages whose contributions led to the enrichment of the maritime history of the Indian Ocean and the world. He created the Tabula Rogeriana, The Map of Roger (in Latin), considered to be the most accurate map of the world in the medieval times, which was commissioned by the Norman King Roger II of Sicily.  His great works included a planisphere, or a circular world map,  made of pure silver; a world map consisting of 70 sections formed by dividing the Earth north of the Equator into 7 climatic zones of equal width, each of which was subdivided into 10 equal parts by lines of longitude; and a compendium of geographical information, intended as accompaniment to the planisphere, which was completed in 15 years. The map portrayed on the stamp above is a part in the latter body of work. South is at the top of the map, and, with the map turned upside down (as is customary with the Arabs), the Mediterranean Sea, Europe, Asia, and Africa are easily identified. The Arabian peninsula is in the center of the map ( 

Al Idrisi was a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad. He was born  Abu Abdallah Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Abdallah Ibn Ildris al-Qurtubi al-Hasani in 1099 in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in Morocco and studied in Cordoba, Spain. He is also a doctor, a pharmacologist, and a connoisseur of Latin and Greek. In 2006, the Correos de España issued the above stamp as a tribute to him.

The postmarks only messed the stamp so, for comparison purposes, here’s a clean copy of the stamp:

Stamp nicked from Correos de España site.

I tried to look at the stamp upside down but I got more confused, lol. Tell me what you see. This is one example of stamp that definitely made me say… hmmmm, I didn’t know that.

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