January 28th – The Festival of The Estrigid Enigma

In Cartographer’s Hall, just down the road from the Parliament Building, hundreds of the world’s greatest cryptographers will take turns to pore over Estrigid Map, also known as the Estrigid Enigma. The map was purchased in 1626 by Damon Jackoviche, a leading member of (what was then) the Royal Society of Cartographers. He bought it from an itinerant beggar, in return for three quarts of hard cheese and three day’s boarding at Jackoviche’s small home. The beggar, or ‘Wanderer’ as he was referred to at the time, had apparently come into possession of the map on his travels in the east, where it was dropped into his lap by a white raven.

Because of its extreme fragility and value, the map is kept sealed between two sheets of glass, and displayed in such a way that both sides can easily be viewed by as many expert code breakers as possible. Because of concerns surrounding light bleaching, the map is only available to view in the ‘flesh’ today, but it had been reproduced hundreds of times. Throughout the day map will be shown under ultraviolet light, and lit from odd angles in order to showcase the strange, otherwise-invisible scrawlings and patterned lumps on its surface, which cannot be seen in the various copies normally available to the cartographers.

The map contains a number of nonsensical-seeming sentences and words in Buentoilliçan, and various theories abound as to whether they relate to the geographic features they overlay. A number of other decipherable languages also plaster the landmasses of the map, but they also appear to lack any true meaning. However, perhaps the strangest thing about the map, and the reason for the presence of the crowds today, is the vast flowing and apparently indecipherable glyphs which fill the oceans and bodies of water depicted on the map. Despite hundreds of years of scholarly study, these glyphs remain a tantalising enigma, and accordingly many conspiracy theories abound; are they the language of some sea-faring people, now lost to the oceans? The only surviving relic of the mythical drowned city of Siltslim? A deliberate hoax?

The land masses themselves are purportedly those of the far east, beyond the Great Expanse, but since the failure of the Great Land Expedition, no Buentoilliçan has ventured far enough in that direction to verify these claims. There is no real evidence or even reason to suggest that they are anything more than an entire fabrication, save the words of the Wanderer when he sold the map. Jackoviche recorded their encounter in his journal, which many cryptographers have turned to in desperation; an attempt to gain some context and understanding of the Enigma.

According to Jackoviche, the Wanderer, dressed in black robes from head to toe, claimed that if the reader tilted their head to a specific angle (which he referred to as the Estrigid angle and refused to be more specific), whilst wearing shoes made from the skin of three silk rats, no longer than three hours after they had witnessed a songbird fall from the sky, the words would gain their true meaning. While most of the cryptographers will be wearing the correct shoes, and will have watched someone throw a songbird with its wings bound thrown from a nearby clock tower, nobody has yet worked out the exact meaning of the Estrigid angle, so the claim is as of yet unverifiable.

Visitors of a humorous disposition are advised to visit the Hall today to watch the cryptographers crane their necks, flitting from position to position like large bald birds.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Comfort Foods and Naps