Cordiform: Heart-Shaped Map Projections

Heart shaped map projections are known as cordiform map projections.  Cordiform is derived from the Latin “cor” for heart and form for shape.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s a look at two heart-shaped map projections.

Werner Map Projection

The Werner map projection is a heart-shaped map projection originally conceived by Austrian mathematics professor Johannes Stabius (Stab) of Vienna around 1500.  Johannes Werner, a German priest from Nuremberg expanded on the projection which he described in his book Nova translatio primi libri geographiaae C. Ptolemaei published in 1514.  During the 16th and first part of the 17th century, the projection was used for world maps and some continental maps.  Cartographers  Mercator, Oronce Fine, and Ortelius used the projection in the late 16th century for maps of Asia and Africa.  During the 18th century, the projection was replaced by the Bonne map projection which is also cordiform.  Also known as the Stabius-Werner (or Stab-Werner) projection, this projection is pseudoconic equal area.

Although the beginnings of this cordiform map projection has its origins in Ptolemy’s early works, the development of a heart shaped map projection during the renaissance era is not a coincidence.  The symbology of the world as a heart was closely tied to the concept of the inner emotions affecting the physical world (Brotton, 2013).

World map created in 1514 by Oronce Fine (1494–1555) who was one of the first French scholars to work with cartography.

World map created in 1514 by Oronce Fine (1494–1555) who was one of the first French scholars to work with cartography.

Bonne Map Projection

Although named for French cartographer Rigobert Bonne who lived in the 18 century, the Bonne map projection had been in use since the early 1500s.  Like the Werner projection, this heart-shaped map projection is also pseudoconical equal-area.


Brotton, J. (2013). A history of the world in twelve maps. New York: Viking, published by Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

Posch, M.  2011.  Appendix C The Stabius-Werner map projection.  CCE Status Report 2011.

Snyder JP. 1987. Map projections – A working manual. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1395.  United States Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 383 pp


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