A marshallese stick chart is a traditional navigational tool used by the Marshallese people of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. These charts, which were created and used by the Marshallese for centuries, consist of a series of sticks and shells arranged on a flat surface, such as a piece of wood or coconut frond, in a way that represents the layout of the islands in the Marshall Islands group, as well as the location of reefs and other navigational landmarks.
The marshallese stick chart is an example of a type of navigation known as wayfinding, which involves using natural landmarks and other features of the environment to guide one's course. In the case of the Marshall Islands, the stick charts were used to help navigators find their way between the many small, isolated islands that make up the archipelago.
To create a marshallese stick chart, the navigator would start by selecting a flat surface and arranging sticks on it to represent the various islands in the group. The sticks would be placed in a way that accurately reflected the distance and direction between the islands, with shorter sticks representing closer islands and longer sticks representing more distant islands. Shells or other small objects would then be used to mark the location of reefs, lagoons, and other navigational landmarks.
One of the key features of the marshallese stick chart is that it is highly adaptable and can be customized to suit the specific needs of the navigator. For example, a chart could be created to show the route between two specific islands, or it could be designed to show the layout of an entire archipelago. Additionally, stick charts could be updated as new navigational information became available, allowing navigators to keep their charts current and accurate.
While the marshallese stick chart may seem like a simple tool, it is actually a highly sophisticated and effective means of navigation. The Marshallese people have a long history of sea travel, and the use of stick charts has played a crucial role in allowing them to safely navigate the many islands of the archipelago. Today, the marshallese stick chart remains an important cultural artifact for the Marshallese people, and it is still used by traditional navigators to guide their way across the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
Lost Knowledge: Stick Chart Navigation
Researchers have since found that the navigational techniques of this pre-literate civilization align quite closely with oceanic phenomena that we have come to understand today. Others are deflected, sent back at a different angle, at the margins of the island or atoll figure 1b. Each cowrie shell represents an island or atoll and the arranged sticks depict potential navigation courses between them. Principles of Wave Pattern Navigation. And remember that humans have successfully used many different navigational techniques to explore this wonderful planet over the millennia.
How Marshall Islanders Navigated the Sea Using Only Sticks and Shells
The knowledge was passed down not only through the charts, but from one generation of ri-meto to the next. The apprentice then had to pass a voyaging test, devised by his chief, on the first try. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. The Marshallese would study the map by focusing on the locations of the shells and the positioning of the diagonal sticks, adjusting their routes as they saw fit. In addition, we use third-party cookies to help us analyze and understand usage.
Look out for that southern wave. There was a time when scientists and scholars doubted the accuracy of Marshallese navigation. While these charts may have helped on land, ancient navigators relied on Using the sophisticated art of wave-piloting, ri-metos relied solely on the feeling of the ocean to navigate. While Gulick was correct about the charts describing wave activity, they were not made out of sticks per se. Made from coconut strips, palm strips, and cowrie shells, navigation charts are thought to visualize the secret knowledge navigators, known as ri-metos, held. They were then bound together with coconut sennit in geometric patterns depicting sea currents around the low lying atolls.
Wave pattern navigation is based on the principle of reflection, deflection and refraction of waves. Your choice here will be recorded for all Make. Image: If you live in a country consisting of over 1,100 islands spread across 750,000 square miles, how do you navigate the sea in between? I painted this fish. He says the charts were used mainly as teaching devices rather than real-time way-finders. Their stick charts, however, were not really made of sticks, and not really used for navigation.
North has always been up! These Micronesian artifacts provide insight into how humans have adapted to life surrounded by the sea in the past. These stick charts illustrate the ways in which mapmaking depends largely on the context and needs of the mapmakers themselves. Use of stick charts and navigation by swells apparently came to demise after World War II, when travel between islands by canoe halted. The second type illustrates actual islands, often represented by cowrie shells, along with swell patterns identified and recorded by pilots. Even more remarkable than the artifact is the apprenticeship and testing required to become a fully sanctioned ri-meto, or navigator, in Marshallese society.
Map of the Week: Marshall Islands Navigational Chart
In Woodward, David; Lewis, G. After years of practice and experience, an apprentice is blindfolded and taken in a canoe to a remote, undisclosed part of the ocean, far from any point where land is still visible. This source is a part of the Analyzing Maps methods module. These were often more abstract and symbolic, made by specific sailors for personal use, making them a bit more esoteric to the outsider. Those days are gone, and I miss them. I should write it up some time! Unlike world maps being created during the 19th century, this map does not include any extravagant borders, fancy font, or eye catching colors. The stick charts found in the Marshall Islands, of which some 20 or 30 are extant in museums throughout the world, have for long puzzled historians of navigation.
My Historically, he said, east at the top of the document. The directions and swells would be memorized by the mariners, who would then navigate without them. Further out on the leeward side of the island there will be a zone where the refracted waves figure 1d , coming from both sides of the island, will meet figure 1e. The development of wave pattern navigation is fairly unique among the Marshallese and is the basis for much of their successful navigation and the rest of this essay. Likewise, I remember when well-traveled road warriors had at least one dog-eared copy of a Rand McNally Road Atlas in their cars. These trained navigators were called ri-meto.
Navigating the Waters with Micronesian Stick Charts
Easy: with sticks and shells. Stick charts were typically made from the midribs of coconut fronds tied together to form an open framework. The charts represented major ocean swell patterns and the ways the islands disrupted those patterns, typically determined by sensing disruptions in ocean swells by islands during sea navigation. I just learned about this art form recently and thought this is a perfect lesson for my 5-year-old! New York Times, 2016. They had to be as the atolls they sailed between were great distances apart and much of the sailing was on open ocean where no land could be seen. We know that Australia, the island continent, was inhabited more than 50,000 years ago.