Our Red Wooden Sailboat with Octopus is a visual treat. Fine German craftsmanship from a storied toy company with a whimsical design. A vintage-inspired octopus indeed, which had us wondering - what is the meaning behind these historically-rendered sea creatures?
Smithsonian Magazine delved into the topic with an aptly named article 'The Enchanting Sea Monsters on Medieval Maps'. According to the author, the seemingly playful sea monsters drawn on ocean maps were more than mere decoration.
“To our eyes, almost all of the sea monsters on all of these maps seem quite whimsical, but in fact, a lot of them were taken from what the cartographers viewed as scientific, authoritative books,” said author Chet Van Duzer in a podcast with Lapham’s Quarterly. “So most of the sea monsters reflect an effort on the part of the cartographer to be accurate in the depiction of what lived in the sea.”
Coveted and collected by the wealthy class during the 16th and 17th century, the maps did serve an ornamental purpose. And soon such maps would be relegated to the dustbin given the European continents growing understanding of science and the invention of the printing press. Less emphasis on dangers lurking in the sea, with a focus on human's mastery of the sea and trade.
The whimsical dedications of sea monsters slowly disappeared, now serving as fodder for creative pursuits. Such as our colorful sailboat. Enjoy hours of play in the water with these sea-worthy toy, or sit it comfortably on a child's shelf. Aye aye Cap'n!
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