Welsh map maker's vision of Persia


Emanuel Bowen was no ordinary Welsh map maker. The cartographer made maps for King George II of Great Britain and Louis XV of France. He'd come a long way from little Tal-y-Llychau (Talley) in Carmarthenshire.

But while he'd be remembered for creating beautiful handcrafted maps for royalty on both sides of the Channel, one of his masterpieces was a map of Persia (above), published in 1747. Bowen was an ambitious visionary. Famed in years previous for drawing up accurate maps of English counties, he wanted to go a step further and created maps of other parts of the world.

Persia in the mid-18th Century was slightly larger than modern day Iran but you can see how it covers most of what we know today as Iraq, Azerbaijan and Armenia; as well as parts of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan. And of course, the 'Persian Sea' is now known as the Gulf of Oman.

At the time, Persia was under the rather turbulent rule of the Afsharid dynasty. Between 1747 and 1748, there were three Shahs; first Nader Shah - who was assassinated after a rebellion, followed by his nephew Adil who lasted less than a year at the top (in 1749, he was captured and tortured to death) and Ebrahim Afshar - he just lasted three months before being kicked out by rebels. 

Things calmed a little after, under the reign of Shahrokh Shah, despite being given the role at 14 years of age. At least he was Shah from that point until his death nearly 50 years later (even if he was overthrown for a small period at the start of his reign).

And we thought 2020 was dramatic.

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