20th-mid century 20th century. bamboo, cowrie shells, twine.
pacific islander, marshall islands.
In the Marshall Islands, navigation was, and remains, an essential skill on which the lives of the navigators and all who sailed with them depended. In the past, knowledge of the art of navigation was a closely guarded secret handed down within certain chiefly families. To assist in recalling and imparting aspects of navigational knowledge, navigators constructed diagrams representing different portions of the archipelago. Made from the sticklike midribs of coconut palm fronds, these objects were memory aids, created for personal use or to instruct novices, and the significance of each was known only to its maker. The charts were exclusively used on land, prior to a voyage. To carry one at sea would put a navigator’s skill in question.
put me out to sea with one of these and you would never see me agian.
text via met
image via mfa