The White Wind and The Wind Rose

September 27, 2018

 

The world’s highest peak, outside of Asia’s Himalayas, is Aconcagua, located 100 miles east of the Pacific Ocean in Argentina.  In the crown of South America’s Andes mountain range it rises 23,000 feet above the Pacific’s shores and the cloud cover at the summit is so frequent that it has been referred to as the Viento Blanco or White Wind.  Mountain climbers traditionally describe each notable location by their strong environmental conditions.  Weatherwise magazine reported that the characteristics of Aconcagua are its extreme wind.  Pacific storms crash on the natural walls of the Andes.  Westward pushing air rises above the peaks of the range to Aconcagua where it becomes White Wind.  Condensation surrounding the white clouds turns these clouds to a Dantean orange at sunset. Another item of interest...Without charts, the only means to determine a sailor or explorer's location was celestial navigation. The captain's chart was little more than the ship's log. On old maps, a circular directional emblem is a "wind rose." Mariner's in Homer's time identified direction with wind and early cartographers were part artist, part astronomer, combining wind direction into the "wind rose." Once nautical charts were initiated in the fourteenth century, the four primary winds were schematically positioned around a circle that represented the horizon. Always present was the "wind-rose" that contained a radial set of points, such as a star, directed into each wind position. The rhumb lines radiated from the central point of the rose, connected to each directional point. In the sixteenth century, cartographers expressed their most imaginative work within the rose, incorporating brilliant colors with gold and silver laced trims. Possibly through some means of uniformity, principal winds, half-winds, and quarter winds were done in different colors.  Fifteenth century Italian cartographers used gold, green and red hues for their winds.  Cherubs were added; blowing the principal winds from their mouths and sometimes accompanied by wild animals.  At the mercy of the wind, mariners used this circular, directional emblem for several hundred years.  Early Italian wind roses indicated an east wind with an "L" for "levanter" with the west wind designated as a setting sun.  A wind such as the "grecco" or northeast wind was marked with a "G". An "S" marked a "sirocco" or southeast wind and the symbol for a northwest wind or "maestro" carried an "M". The north wind originally was noted with a variety of symbols depicting celestial stars. In the 1500s, north was often marked with a symbol familiar to us, the fleur-de-lis. The discovery of the lodestone or magnetite, once touched to a steel needle, began the development of the compass. Where the compass and GPS set our course today, the wind rose the primitive directional indicator on navigational charts. 

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