His uncle was a naval commander for the ottoman navy and the boy aspired to become one like him someday.
Once the little boy was given a “box with a rotating needle” to play to which his uncle remarked “It is the guardian of your life and destiny on sea, so learn to use it, for one day you would leave sea for land and then you ll have to thank it”.
For hours after then the boy used to gaze into the compass and while holding it in one hand, he used to scratch weird lines on the shiny deck wood.
One day his uncle found him old enough to make him join the fleet of naval officers and he since enjoined him in battles that were fought on high-seas.
Years of playing with the compass and scratching shorelines in the wood made him gaze into the powers that lay inside the “small box with a needle”.
He could look at seas and predict shorelines from a height none of his fellow could. In lost seas he navigated his ships through rough tides escaping shipwrecks but also arriving on shores whose sand and coastlines he could predict days before arrival.
He detracted enemy ships, made his own invisible in the sea and knew of lands and islands existing in oceans that none knew before.
It was famed that while ‘compass guided sailors, compass itself obeyed Piri’.
In the fateful Battle of Lepanto, that changed the cource of world history, Piri was a hero to many who held the command of the victorious ships but Piri himself lost his beloved uncle.
Saddened by his death, he withdrew from the world of seas and ships to the world of books and libraries, still holding his compass in nostalgia. It was now he thought was his time to give gratitude to the “box with the rotating needle” as his uncle had once remarked.
Piri set himself to the task of compiling his travels and the travels before him, not in any worded narration, but in maps. In libraries, with his compass by his side he would devour through sea of books to look for accounts of travellers and cartographers so that he could bring about the exact account of his own travel.
Piri Reis gave to the world the gifts of his navigation in form of numerous maps covering almost all corners of the globe in his Book of Navigation.
He described therein the secrets to many uncharted sea territories and advices to sailors to avoid shipwrecks. Most of his work was destroyed or stolen from libraries over the cource of time. Of what remained is a torn map which he drew in 1513.
The map shows the coastline of Western Africa, North America and South, Europe and Greenland, but was still inconceivable to the world-Antarctica, which was only discovered 300 years after his death.
This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.