Oz in Four Parts

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.

This entry was posted in Eloise Jarvis McGraw, L. Frank Baum, Oz, Oz Authors, Places, Rachel Cosgrove Payes, Ruth Plumly Thompson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Oz in Four Parts

  1. Fascinating. ;) I’ve often wondered about all this myself as I suspect many Oz fans have.
    Perhaps the countries were all united at one time under King Oz and had their current setup, but after who knows how many years, I can see the countries being divided. It’s probable that the Munchkin Country was divided multiple ways,
    The northern under Cheeriobed’s ancestors.
    The center east, under the control of the WWE. (not the wrestling company of course!)
    The wild and dangerous parts in the center western Munchkin Country where Dorothy encountered the poppies, Kalidahs etc.
    And of course the south which was under Ojo’s ancestors’ rule.

    Or perhaps these were all separate countries until Ozma came along…much like how we have certain states and countries here in the Great Outside World with the same names (North Carolina, South Carolina, the Dakotas and North and South Korea.)

    This also makes me wonder if their are physical characteristics that make a Gillikin a Gillikin and a Quadling a Quadling?
    We’re told in the first book and in the fourth book that some Munckins are at least child height…are they human or a specific race of their own? It’s never made clear if all adults in Oz are short in that book, the illustrations would suggest they are, except Nick Chopper, Glinda and the Soldier with the Green Whiskers. Later books don’t even mention the heights as far as I can recall other than in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz.

    I remember growing up, I always imagined that the people of Oz were almost all brunettes or had black hair and tanned skin. That was my definite image of characters such as Tip, Ojo and Woot.
    (I was blond myself, so it had nothing to do with self projection.)
    While I imagined Betsy, Dorothy and Button Bright as being rather exotic for having such blonde hair.

    I’m still enjoying all of these Ozzy posts of yours.

    • Nathan says:

      The center east, under the control of the WWE. (not the wrestling company of course!)

      Although there IS a Munchkin wrestler in Dorothy and the Wizard.

      Wizard does say the Quadlings are “short and fat,” but I doubt every Quadling fits that description any more than all Munchkins are child-sized. Ojo, for instance, is said to be taller than Button-Bright, yet notably shorter than Unc Nunkie. And the Ozurians are specifically said to be tall Munchkins. The height issue seems to have been largely disregarded until the MGM movie came along.

      How many characters’ hair colors are specified in the books? Dorothy having blonde hair was an idea of Neill’s that I don’t think Baum ever mentioned, although Thompson did. Ozma has “ruddy gold” hair in Land, but dark brown or black after that. I imagine Betsy as being sort of a strawberry blonde and Trot as a brunette, but the books aren’t always consistent on this. As far as native Ozites who are blonde, didn’t Peg Amy (in human form) have golden curls?

  2. Wayne Moises says:

    Futuristic version of L.Frank Baum classic about a modern lass was raised by his relatives aunt or uncle and lives with his cousins to stay since the parents abandoned as a child and lived in the big city to become a diner waitress and a janitor and all of a sudden was taken by a spacebridge to planet OZ then landed safely in a galactic fairyland with the aid of three compatriots to fight a space witch and toppled and save the peaceful planet and Dr.OZ a wizard and aging mentor of the five heroes saved the city of Emerald a symbol of hope and unity and return safely on earth once again and returned to normal life as a liberated teenager.story by:Frank Baum derived from 1900 fantasy story. Thanks for the information about your comments in your opinion.from:Wayne

    • Nathan says:

      I’m not quite sure what the point of your comment is. Is this something that exists, something you’re making, or what? If you’re asking for my opinion on the idea, I’d say it’s been done.

  3. Pingback: Regional Ruler Report | VoVatia

  4. Pingback: The Fabulous Fashions of Oz | VoVatia

  5. Pingback: Unequal Reprozentation | VoVatia

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s