The Devil's Atlas: An Explorer's Guide to Heavens, Hells and Afterworlds by Edward Brooke-Hitching
Whether it's the thirteen heavens of the Aztecs, the Chinese Taoist netherworld of 'hungry ghosts', or the 'Hell of the Flaming Rooster' of Japanese Buddhist mythology (in which sinners are tormented by an enormous fire-breathing cockerel), The Devil's Atlas gathers together a wonderful variety of beliefs and representations of life after death. These afterworlds are illustrated with an unprecedented collection of images, ranging from the marvellous 'infernal cartography' of the European Renaissance artists attempting to map the structured Hell described by Dante and the decorative Islamic depictions of Paradise to the various efforts to map the Garden of Eden and the spiritual vision paintings of nineteenth-century mediums. The Devil's Atlas accompanies beautiful images with a highly readable trove of surprising facts and narratives, from the more inventive torture methods awaiting sinners, to colourful eccentric catalogues of demons, angels and assorted death deities.
A traveller's guide to worlds unseen, The Devil's Atlas is a fascinating study of the boundless capacity of human invention, a visual chronicle of man's hopes, fears and fantasies of what lies beyond.