The Mao Kun Map, sometimes referred as the Navigational Charts or the Map to the Land of the Dead, was the only guide that took into account the role of chance, fate, and the supernatural in mortal affairs. With no fixed points, the map is first introduced in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and its sequel On Stranger Tides. Among other appearances, the map's paintings were used for the design of building that held The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
According to the "Certificate of Autheticity" to a limited edition reproduction of the Map of the Land of the Dead:
- This map was presented to the esteemed and great navigator Wu Ling for his journeys to the mysterious gates of the afterlife. The map leads to spiritual realms and legends of the land beyond death. It was compiled by the four explorers of the Dark Dynasty. It uses meridian arcs, equatorial divisions, geographic landmarks and magic keys to guide one's spiritual passage.
- This reproduction has aligned the arcs showing the pathway to the Fountain of Youth. It was solely created for the Pirates Marathon on May 24th, 2007 at the El Capitan Theatre.
Design and Appearance
The Mao Kun Map was believed to have been painted on washi-handmade Japanese rice paper. 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. If lined up correctly, the map to the Fountain of Youth would be found.
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.
The renowned Pirate Lord of Singapore, Sao Feng holds one of the great keys to a true pirate mystery: the charts that shows the way to World's End. To help the surviving members of Jack Sparrow's crew save Jack from Davy Jones' Locker, Captain Barbossa helps them by recovering the map. After Will Turner attempted to steal them, Feng used the charts to personally accuse Barbossa of stealing them. Although Feng didn't want Jack Sparrow return from the Land of the Dead, Will made a deal with Feng that procured Barbossa's crew the charts they need for their quest.
While sailing to the Farthest Gate, the crew used the navigational charts throughout their journey, leading them to World's End and beyond. Barbossa had the charts when they arrived in Davy Jones' Locker and joined Jack Sparrow on the Black Pearl. Jack later deciphered the chart's cryptic message, "Up is Down": to flip the ship over by sundown, so the Black Pearl, along with its crewmen, are transported to the land of the living.
Following the death of Lord Cutler Beckett, Barbossa stole the Pearl from Jack once again, with the charts in his possession. But when showing his crew the map to the Fountain of Youth, Barbossa discovered that Jack stole the middle part of the charts. Taking the route of Juan Ponce de León on the charts, Jack sailed on a small vessel to begin his quest for the Fountain.
While attempting to rescue his first mate, Joshamee Gibbs, Captain Jack Sparrow's map is seen. Gibbs takes the map and inquires of his quest to the Fountain. Taking the map back, Jack said that it was delayed but vowed to taste the waters. When Jack was brought before King George II, who wants Jack to guide an expedition to the Fountain of Youth, he was asked about the map. However, when asked to present the map, Jack didn't have it.
Unbeknownst to Jack, it was Gibbs who stole the map before Jack was dragged by Royal Guards to meet with King George. That night, after Jack's escape, Gibbs was brought forward to Hector Barbossa, now a privateer in service to King George after losing his leg and ship, the Black Pearl. Threatened into being hung by the gallows, Gibbs revealed to be in possession of the map. Barbossa ordered Gibbs to give him the map, but Gibbs burned it. Though Barbossa called Gibbs a "fool", Gibbs revealed that he had plenty of time to "study those infernal circles" and memorized every route and destination. With the knowledge that Gibbs was the only one who could help him find the Fountain, Barbossa welcomed Gibbs back into the the Navy, as the map smoldered.
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 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide.
- 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).
- There were three versions of the map. The first was seen several times in At Worlds 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).
Notes and references
- Information shown from the Map of the Land of the Dead product info.
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