The Edge of the World: An Exploration of the Fringes of the Psalter World Map*


  • Rebecca Price


 Medieval mappaemundi are richly complex images that hold within them clues to improve understanding of the medieval psyche concerning the natural world and the place of medieval cultures within it. In my exploration of the Psalter World Map, I provide a brief historical context for the psalter in which this map resides, including information on its creation and provenance. I then examine aspects of the fringes of the map to display the liminality of two specific images: the winds surrounding the Earth and the fourteen “otherworldly creatures” positioned across the Nile River on the bottom right-hand corner of the Earth. In doing so, I argue that medieval people were acutely aware of their place in the world, that they recognized their own human, transformative state, and that they utilized the edges of mappaemundi as a safe and controlled environment to explore and better understand their anxieties about the world and their place within it.