It seems that the division of Oz into separate countries is rather too neat, with all four countries being roughly the same size and shape, and each one color-coded. Is this just part of its being a magical fairyland, or was there some difficulty before this compromise was agreed upon? Were there border skirmishes between the different countries, with expansionist Gillikins pulling up buttercups to plant violets? We really don’t know, because much of the history of Oz isn’t covered in the books. It is, however, interesting to look at how the concept of the countries might have changed within the books themselves. An examination of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz reveals that Dorothy and her friends aren’t specifically said to be in the Quadling Country until after they’ve crossed the Hammer-Heads’ mountain, which maps of Oz show to be quite deep into Quadling territory. The illustrations of the China Country and the forest where the Cowardly Lion kills the giant spider are brown in color, suggesting some sort of buffer zone in between the green Emerald City area and the red Quadling Country. For that matter, are we specifically told that the adventurers are still in the Munchkin Country until they reach the territory where the Emerald City is located, which Dorothy rather confusingly calls “the Land of Oz”? The pictures in and near the poppy field are scarlet, and the fact that there is a field of red flowers could be taken as a hint that the area where it is located does not count as Munchkin territory. When I first started reading the books, I was under the impression that there were large portions of Oz that weren’t considered part of any of the brightly colored nations. Even the earliest known map of Oz suggests otherwise, however.
Can we just chalk this up to authorial error, or is there perhaps a hint that the four countries weren’t as unified before Ozma took the throne? There are certainly a few passages in later books that can back this up. In Ojo, it’s said that the southern Munchkin Country was a separate kingdom before Ozma’s reign, and Gloma assures Dorothy in Wishing Horse that the Wicked Witch of the West never took control of the southern Winkie Country.
Speaking of the quadrants, I’m also curious as to whether they all follow the same fashions. We’re told early on that Munchkins wear “round hats that rose to a small point a foot above their heads, with little bells around the brims that tinkled sweetly as they moved.” The Good Witch of the North also wears a hat like this, but hers is white instead of blue.
And of the Emerald City territory, L. Frank Baum writes, “The people were all dressed in clothing of a lovely emerald green color and wore peaked hats like those of the Munchkins.” I don’t believe the fashions of the Winkies or Quadlings are ever discussed, beyond the fact that they wear yellow and red respectively. John R. Neill draws Woot the Wanderer in Tin Woodman and Randy in Purple Prince, both Gillikins, with Munchkin-style peaked hats, although I don’t think the text specifies this detail.
And in Hidden Valley, Jam meets a group of Gillikins who wear pointed purple hats with purple bells around the rims and “high purple leather boots with long pointed toes that curled up.” In Forbidden Fountain, however, we’re told that the style in part of the Gillikin Country is three-cornered hats and two-pointed beards. So the Munchkin fashion seems to have caught on in much of the land, but perhaps not all of it. And, of course, the small kingdoms are always wild cards.