Compass Rose Designs
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Compass roses are an ideal embellishment for a unique map. They have a clear mapping function and have lots of possibilities for creativity.
The only necessary function of a compass rose is to indicate the compass directions of north, east, south, and west and can be as simple as an arrow or a line with an "N".
Antique maps decorated compass roses using the tastes of the times. They were often very ornate.
An important part of antique compass roses was the inclusion of the 16 cardinal and intercardinal directions. This was due to the mapping tradition of sea charts to find the way. Accuracy of direction was important to early navigators.
Many maps went even further to include rhumb lines making bearings easy to figure out.
Modern mapping methods have worked to simplify the extravagance of previous maps. Minimal design of simply the needed north arrow have become common.
Modern cartographers have increased the frequency of leaving off north arrows for maps oriented north.
But while cartographers seem to have the tendency to see compass roses as clutter, map artists seem to see the compass rose as another means for expression.
Another unique example in a different direction is Richard Eades Harrison's inclusion of a location map in the form of a globe in the compass rose. Notice that north is not up! He has oriented the compass rose to the same direction as the map. Not unique... but what is unique is that the world location map is therefore not north-up. This is unique mapping. Most location maps use the north-up convention.
An interesting fact that may inspire you to make your own decorative compass rose is each direction is derived from a Germanic word...
- North is derived from left as in left of the rising sun
- East is derived from the word for dawn
- South comes from the word for sun
- West is from the word for evening
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