Wednesday, February 17, 2010

And it is?

Kind of pretty, isn't it? Polished wood, interesting texture and carving. But what is it?
Actually, it's a map. It's fairly small, fits inside a seal-hide glove so you can feel it while paddling. It is an Inuit carved wooden coastal chart, used by kayakers to keep track of where they are. The map extends up one side and then over the top and down the other side, detailing the gross coastline features.  The one above represents part of the Greenland coastline. I saw another one last night at a geography lecture--that one was made to represent the southern tip of Vancouver Island, up Haro Strait to Sidney, and then around and into Finlayson Arm.  These carvings are not intended to give you a highly detailed map, just the big features so you pretty much know where you are. And it makes such perfect sense; doesn't wear out, floats, and can be read in the dark or inside your glove. The one above was found in the mid-1800s and is exhibited in the Greenland National Museum.

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  1. That's absolutely ingenious and the first time I've heard of such a map. Brilliantly simple.

  2. Good grief! I can READ that map! at least, I can read the upper edge... Yup, there's Cormorant Point and Cordova Bay... wow, it's wonderful. Wow. Bernie, make me one of those!