This slightly ominous picture is one of the biggest mysteries in the history of Western cartography. Usually, it is simply called “The Fool’s Cap” – and until now no one knows why, when, where and by whom it was created.
The only thing that can be said about it with certainty is that it was created sometime in 1580-1590. But the sources diverge even in the definition of the projection used in it – some argue that it is a ptolemic (i.e., equidistant conical) system, others claim that it is more similar to the technique of Mercator and/or Ortelius.
The map depicts the world “dressed” in the traditional entourage of a court buffoon: a two-hooded cap with bells and a buffoon staff. The face is hidden (or replaced) by the map, creating a somewhat ominous and menacing sensation.