She is one of the Panotii.  She has ears so big that she can hear evil.  Sometimes she goes out with no clothes on, because her ears are big enough to wrap around her and keep her warm.

She lives on an island along with the other Panotii.  Noted cataloguer of made-up beings, Pliny the Elder, wrote that this place, this All-Ears Island, lay somewhere within landlocked Asia.  Another ancient geographer, Pomponius Mela, thought it was one of the Orkney Isles.  Thankfully, the mapmakers of the Hereford Mappa Mundi, a 700-year-old map inked onto vellum, cleared up the matter.  Their Mappa Mundi is a fabulous work, as attested to here

What the BBC video doesn’t show is a little island in the top left of the map.  Squint at this and you’ll see it…


…but in case you couldn’t make it out, here’s a close-up.


That’s All-Ears Island, and let me give you its geographical context in the world as we know it.  The furthest north point on this map is India, and the British Isles are in the bottom left, at about eight o’clock.  That circle in the centre of the map is Jerusalem.  Midway between Jerusalem and ten o’clock is Noah’s Ark, while Gog and Magog are closer to eleven.  By now you should have a pretty clear idea of where All-Ears Island exists.



Time for a big-eared interlude, because it’s cute to do so.



Sebastian Brant's Panotii

Sebastian Brant wrote about the Panotti in his edition of Aesop’s Fables (that’s his woodcut, above, from page 372), while they also appear in the Nuremberg Chronicle (below) and in the bottom right corner of this elaborate stone relief from the Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine in France.


The British Library has another fabulous image on its site, into which you can zoom and zoom until you can see the brush marks in the ink


I like the way this Panotii has rolled up its ears to either eschew decency or catch some sun.  The BL’s accompanying article states that the Panotii can even escape from danger by flapping their ears and flying away.  Which reminds me of this…