|Mao Kun Map|
Four explorers of the Dark Dynasty
The Mao Kun Map, sometimes referred as the navigational charts or the Map to the Land of the Dead, was the map used to locate some of the world's more obscure and mystical places. With no fixed points, this chart was the only guide that took into account the role of chance, fate and the supernatural in mortal affairs.
Originally given to the esteemed and great navigator Wu Ling, who was known for going on various journeys to the mysterious gates of the afterlife, this map was prized above all other charts. It used meridian arcs, equatorial divisions, geographic landmarks and magic keys to guide one's spiritual passage. The map would later be owned by the Pirate Lord of Singapore, Sao Feng. After Will Turner attempted to steal them, Feng would have given the charts to Hector Barbossa and his crew, who would take the route to the Farthest Gate. It soon made its way to Jack Sparrow, who used the map in his quest to try and find the Fountain of Youth.
- 1 History
- 2 Appearance and design
- 3 Behind the scenes
- 4 Appearances
- 5 Sources
- 6 External links
- 7 Notes and references
Compiled by the four explorers of the Dark Dynasty, this map was presented to the esteemed and great navigator Wu Ling for his journeys to the mysterious gates of the afterlife. The map led its holder to spiritual realms and legends of the land beyond death, particularly towards the Farthest Gate, Davy Jones' Locker, and the Fountain of Youth. It used meridian arcs, equatorial divisions, geographic landmarks and magic keys to guide one's spiritual passage. Death-inspired passages were also included on the map that were translated by the calligrapher. There were rings on the map that were symbolic of lands that can only be accessed through dreams. The map would be passed down from generation to generation.
At World's End
Obtaining the charts
- "I've a venture underway and I find myself in need of a ship and a crew."
"Hmm...It's an odd coincidence."
"Because you happen to have a ship and a crew you don't need?"
"No. Because earlier this day, not far from here, a thief broke into my most revered uncle's temple and tried to make off with these. The navigational charts. The route to the Farthest Gate. Wouldn't it be amazing if this venture of yours took you to the world beyond this one?"
- ―Hector Barbossa, Sao Feng and Elizabeth Swann
The map was later stored in the temple of Sao Feng's wizened uncle, as Feng did not want the salty air of his waterfront lair to damage the chart's delicate pigmentation. He was also known to carry it on his back when using them for navigation. The chart was moved to Feng's bath house after Will Turner tried to steal it for Hector Barbossa. During the Battle of Singapore, Will made a deal with Feng that procured Barbossa's crew the chart, leading them to World's End and Davy Jones' Locker beyond.
Journey to Davy Jones' Locker
After escaping Singapore with the Hai Peng, along with the map, they've made their journey to World's End. The crew used the navigational charts throughout their journey to World's End. As they were getting closer, they sailed through waters that reflected the stars so perfectly that it was nearly impossible to find the horizon. They soon realized that in order to go to Davy Jones' Locker, they had to go over a massive waterfall. Upon reaching it, the ship was cast down the waterfall and destroyed.
Escaping the Locker
- "'Up is down'...well that's just maddeningly unhelpful. Why are these things never clear?"
- ―Jack Sparrow on the navigational chart
Barbossa still had the charts when they arrived in the Locker and joined Jack Sparrow on the Black Pearl. After which, they have tried to figure out a way to return to the land of the living. Sparrow later deciphered the chart's cryptic message, "Up is Down" on how to escape from the Locker and return to the land of the living: to flip the ship over by sundown. So Sparrow, along with the rest of the crew, flipped the Pearl over. When the sun sets, the green flash shoots up to the sky and transports the Black Pearl, along with its crewman, to the land of the living.
The Fountain of Youth
Beginning the search
Following the death of Lord Cutler Beckett, Barbossa stole the Pearl from Jack once again, with the charts in his possession. Jack anticipated this treachery, so he stole the middle part of Sao Feng's charts from Barbossa and began his quest to find the Fountain of Youth. Barbossa also planned on finding it, but it was postponed because of the loss of the part of the charts. Taking the route of Juan Ponce de León on the charts, Jack sailed on a small vessel to begin his search for the Fountain.
Stolen and destruction
Some years later, Jack met with Joshamee Gibbs after a trial against Gibbs. Noticing the map on Jack's person, Gibbs asked of Jack's quest to the Fountain of Youth. Taking the map back, Jack said that it was delayed but vowed to taste the waters. Shortly before Jack and Gibbs were captured by the Royal Guards at St. James's Palace, unbeknown to Jack, Gibbs stole the charts. After being thrown in prison, Gibbs would spend his time studying the map well enough to memorize every route and destination.
Threatened into being hung by the gallows at the Tower of London, Gibbs revealed of having possession of the map to Hector Barbossa, now privateer for King George II. Barbossa tried to convince Gibbs to give him the map, but Gibbs burned it. Despite this, Gibbs revealed he had enough time to study the map, and now had every route and destination memorized. With the knowledge that Gibbs was the only one who could help him find the Fountain, Barbossa recruited Gibbs into His Majesty's Navy. It is unknown how much of the map Gibbs was able to memorize, aside from the route to the Fountain of Youth.
Appearance and design
The Mao Kun Map was believed to have been painted on washi-handmade Japanese rice paper. These navigational charts were comprised of several rings upon which a map of the world was etched. By rotating the rings and lining one up with another, a reader could use the chart to find any number of mystical locations. The map also had a fairly accurate piece of Florida and Mexico. Some rings were symbolic of lands that can only be accessed through dreams.
Some death-inspired passages were included on the map that were translated by the calligrapher. The Chinese symbols on the map could be deciphered to reveal such locations as "Ghosts of Lost Souls at Sea to be Shepherded Through the Watery Passageway," "Forgotten Sailors Sleep with Eyes Open Dreaming of a Salt Water Death" and "The Rich Man Finds No More Hope of Continued Life-Death Will Always Be A Stairway Behind". Images of dragons—harbingers of good fortune in war—and tigers—devourers of evil spirits—could be found on the chart. The central ring depicted is an intrepid junk, surrounded by skulls, which is surrounded by the phases of the moon.
If lined up correctly, the map to the Fountain of Youth would be found, having the route through Whitecap Bay as well as a jungle-dense island which leads to the Fountain. The struggle for eternal life is symbolized by a tug of war between a skeleton and an angel, which is aligned with the the symbol of the Fountain itself: the Chalices.
Indeed, this map was prized above all other charts, with the directions to many marvelous places. However, as many times as the Mao Kun Map has been used, the dates and distances can change and mislead the traveler who uses the map unwisely.
Behind the scenes
- The Mao Kun Map was created by conceptual consultant James Ward Byrkit for At World's End. Bykrit also worked (uncredited) on making additions to the map for On Stranger Tides.
- The name "Mao Kun Map" came from On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide.
- In real-world history, the Mao Kun Map was a series of maps published in the late-Ming Dynasty military encyclopedia, WuBei Zhi. Believed to be based on the travels of Zheng He, they showed sailing directions between ports of Southeast Asia and the northern Indian Ocean, as far as Malindi.
- Several mythological creatures were included on the chart, as well as a Hidden Mickey (lower right quarter) which looks similar to an early version of Mickey Mouse, and images of Elizabeth Swann and Jack Sparrow (lower left quarter).
- In the revision screenplay draft of At World's End, when Hector Barbossa found that the Mao Kun Map was cut by Jack Sparrow, he was not going to say "Sparrow..." like in the finished version of the film.
- There were at least three versions of the map. The first was seen several times in At World's End, the second wasn't seen until the last scene of At World's End (which had Florida, Cuba and the symbol of the Fountain of Youth added on it), and the third from On Stranger Tides (which was the second version but with an island added on it).
- The map's paintings were used for the design of building that held The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow attraction, particularly the Fountain of Youth portion of the map.
- The map also serves as the background for the DVD menu screens of both At World's End and On Stranger Tides.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (First identified as the navigational charts)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game (Non-canonical appearance)
- Kingdom Hearts III (Non-canonical appearance)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide (First identified as the Mao Kun Map)
Notes and references
- Information shown from the Map of the Land of the Dead product info.
- "Ponce de León 1523" was written on the map, therefore, the map would've been made after Ponce de León's search for the Fountain of Youth.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- POTC Interview with Jim Byrkit 2012
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
- At World's End production notes: Chapter 15 - Props: Weapons, Maps, Rings or Whatever
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide p86-87 "Sao Feng's Map"
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide, p26-27: "Mao Kun Map"
- Worldplay: Calypso's Fury draft of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End script