Marquetry  Woodwork  Almaz 
Shop Organizer

Prester John, also called Presbyter John or John the Elder, legendary Christian ruler of the East, popularized in medieval chronicles and ftraditions as a hoped-for ally against the Muslims. Believed to be a Nestorian, (i.e. a member of an independent Eastern Christian church that did not accept the authority of the patriarch of Constantinople) and a king-priest reigning "in the far east beyond Persia and Armenia," Prester John was the center of a number of legends that hark back to the writings of "John the Elder" in the New Testament.

-Encyclopedia Britannica





By the 14th century, all searches for Prester John and his kingdom in asia had turned up empty. Rather than give up on this hopeful and glamorous legend, however, Europeans decided that they must have been looking in the wrong region and they turned their eyes on the interior of Africa. This was spurred by the fact that there was an actual Christian kingdom there, the Nestorian kingdom of Abyssinia or Ethiopia. Mysterious Abyssinian pilgrims sometimes visited the Holy Land, though thier kingdom was rumored to be bordered by inaccessible mountains. What better place to put the Kingdom of Prester John? Eastern Africa was sometimes conflated in European thinking with the "Indies", and so here must be that great Christian King in the east. Thus the venerable legend moved to a new continent, and it was in Africa that Prester John's Kingdom was thought to lie when the earliest printed maps made their appearance.

-E. Denison Ross, "Prester John and the Empire of Ethiopia." Pp. 174ff. In Arthur P. Newton. Travel and Travellers of the Middle Ages. London &New York, 1930

In ancient times, mathematicians and astronomers from Babylon, Athens and Alexandria recognized that the earth had to be round from the simple shadow it occasionally cast upon the moon, and they came remarkably close to actually calculating its size. However the collapse of the Roman Empire and halls of knowledge became replaced with general illiteracy, total fantasy, and Christian storytellers. The resulting myths woven into a flat earth model contained some pretty unlikely domains.

In the Era of Discovery, courageous explorers commandeered glorified bathtubs surmounted with canvas drop-clothes that they called "sails" and set out from western Europe and discovered or rediscovered the actual sea shores, continents, and islands of the real world.

One such intrepid travelor, having walked away from the pickett-fenced suburban home of his youth, bringing his teddy bear and pulling his little red wagon behind him, accidently came upon the "Tissabe Falls" below Lake T'ana, near the source of the Blue Nile in eastern Africa.

<John at Tissabe Falls

Upon returning home, he found himself to be somewhat at a loss to describe the marvels and wonders of his journey. The companions of his day were so besotted with their own mythology that they could not even comprehend his descriptions. But forever afterward he was known to say to anyone who would give him so much ear, "If you ever, ever, every have the opportunity, GO to Africa! It will change you profoundly, in ways that you can never even imagine!"