An astonishment a day- 
drives your depression away...

Skiapodes in the Antipodes.

During the times when the Maoris were slowly beginning to populate the islands of New Zealand, in Spain, which at the time was occupied by the Arabs, the Spanish Prince Beatus of Liebany (died c. 798) was collecting information about various countries and was drawing maps. The map of the world, as completed by Beatus was attached anonymously to the "Comments to the Apocalypse of St John" (and this is why the map came to contain the images of the Twelve Apostles). The original has not been preserved, but a few copies are known that were completed in the Medieval times. 

According to the views and beliefs at the time the world was shaped as a circle, and the lands were surrounded by seas full of fish. With proper orientation of the map we can see the relatively accurate positioning of Greece, Rome, the Mediterranean Sea with Cyprus and Crete and the extremely oversized terrain of Palestine. All of which mirrors well the space occupied by the Holy Land in the imaginations of the Christians at the time. Sarmatia is located far away, at the very edge of the world. 
Africa starts at Libya and finishes with Ethiopia. This can all be seen on the  map below dated 1060, and the current equivalent. 

Beatus, similarly to what was thought by his predecessors, that Africa lies to the north of the Equator. Furthermore, to the south of the equator were the Antipodes inhabited by monstrous creatures, named after the Greek 'skiapodes'. Skiapodes had only one leg, but it was not used for walking, but rather to shade themselves from the sun, which seemed to bother them greatly. On some maps, the land of the Antipodes is only indicated by a general location, whereas other maps go into a fair bit of artistic details regarding the Skiapodes. This can be seen in the map attached (copy dated 1060). 

The illustration on the map clearly show that the leg of the Skiapode is used as a parasol to protect from the sun that is located in the east. 

I have lived in this part of the world for quite some time now, but I have not yet seen even one Skiapode. However there are many islands in the Pacific, many deserts in Australia, many deep mountain ravines in Western Irian and Papua New Guinea has not yet been entirely investigated by contemporary occupants.



(C) (selected from publications of 
 R. Antoszewski

Titirangi, Auckland, 
New Zeland

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February  2003