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Cartography & Carpets

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18827.  Tue May 03, 2005 4:42 am Reply with quote

Some time ago, I did a Mythcon in FT on the widely reported belief that Ordnance Survey include deliberate mistakes in their maps, as a method of “fingerprinting” them against plagiarism. The OS unequivocally denies this.

In the same column, I asked whether the related belief, that Persian carpets always contain a deliberate error because only God can create perfection, held any truth. I don’t think I ever received a reply; does anyone know any more of this story?

18831.  Tue May 03, 2005 5:02 am Reply with quote

A funny one this, one half of me says that it’s a clever marketing ploy to get rid of faulty merchandise. But there are a few seemingly credible sites which state otherwise. For instance if you’re looking for info on Persian Carpets, you might consider “”:

Surprisingly, a fine Persian rug will almost always include intentional imperfections. In fact, there's an old Persian proverb that says, "A Persian Rug is Perfectly Imperfect, and Precisely Imprecise". This notion of intentionally including slight and minor irregularities is derived from the religious belief that God is the only perfect being and that attempting absolute perfection would be claiming the position of the Almighty.

18840.  Tue May 03, 2005 6:27 am Reply with quote


Last edited by DELETED on Sat May 07, 2005 9:40 am; edited 2 times in total

18846.  Tue May 03, 2005 6:43 am Reply with quote

Good stuff, Garrick.

18906.  Tue May 03, 2005 9:20 am Reply with quote

About fifteen minutes' drive from me you can see Eartha, the world's largest revolving globe, 41 feet in diameter on a scale of 1:1,000,000, which works out to be one inch equaling nearly 16 miles. It's fascinating - we have taken visitors there a few times. Like the Peters projection, it really brings the southern hemisphere into its true perspective when you see it rotating. There are three heights of viewing gallery so you can see it from a lot of angles.

20475.  Wed May 18, 2005 11:42 am Reply with quote

I’ve found a few real examples - or, at least, respectably sourced examples - of deliberate cartographic errors (from cartographers other than the OS, I hasten to add), including the GPS system. If anyone thinks this is worth pursuing, I’ll write them up. I don’t suppose it’d be possible to get a final answer on the carpets, but it might be possible to get a theological ruling on the basis of the story - would it in fact be irreligious to produce a righteous rug?

21101.  Wed Jun 01, 2005 6:08 am Reply with quote

For another cartographic error, please see my posting “Nome” on the DVD forum.

148276.  Sat Feb 17, 2007 8:57 am Reply with quote

According to ‘Amazing Mistakes’ by Michael Johnstone (Capella, 2003), “Notre Dame and many other Gothic churches have a slight kink in their main axes so that the nave lines up exactly with the centre of the altar. Some experts think that these kinks are the result of a simple miscalculation on the part of their architects. But it is more than likely that they built in the kink intentionally as an expression of humility and a reminder than only God is perfect.”

1208560.  Thu Oct 13, 2016 4:56 am Reply with quote

Best thread on Cartography


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