View Full Version : Inuit Maps

04-28-2008, 09:19 AM
I made a discovery today, which is that the Inuit Indians made three dimensional maps using driftwood. These maps did not look at all like maps in the conventional sense, the edge of the wood was carved to represent a coastline. Thus they could feel the shape of the coastline in the dark when they were in their kayaks. If dropped into the water the wood would float and the map would never fade.

I can't find much about it on the web at all - there is a payfor article on JSTOR and there was this (http://www.deadmedia.org/notes/15/157.html). and this (http://middlesavagery.wordpress.com/2008/03/01/tactile-maps-and-imaginary-geographies/) (which is the site from which I got the picture).

What never ceases to surprise me is how practical and innovative humans are in approaching problems and how diverse the solutions of different cultures.

How cool is this eh?

04-28-2008, 09:23 AM
This is great! A golden find, ravs! It's inspiring things like this that make me want to roll my sleeves up & get to mapping right away!

04-28-2008, 09:30 AM
This would have made a great entry in last month's competition!

04-28-2008, 11:19 AM
Wow. That is pretty cool. There is a lot of really interesting and practical techniques that American Indians used. I think it stemmed from having to survive and it was sort of an evolutionary thing. Look at the Eskimo and their igloos to begin with. There is a lot of science there and yet it is simple and practical. It is interesting as you look through the various tribes it seems like the more "advanced" they were the less "simplistic" their solutions were. We talked a little about this in my engineering class in college. We have a tendency to over-engineer and reinvent things that had more practical and simple designs in the past. Of course, that isn't always true especially in the area of technology but when you consider that the abacus is still taught in Asian schools and actually helps them make calculations as fast, or in some cases faster than, a calculator you really have to stop and think.

That was indeed a great find Ravs!

04-28-2008, 01:01 PM
Wow, that makes so much sense!

I found another tiny link with a full colour picture of the one map/carving. There's very little to be found it seems. Lots of links about how they make soapstone for tourists but no admiration for their innovations and adaptations.


There is some other great stuff on the site too. Its all about mapping :).

Thanks RPMiller, I just have to get my head around it as a possibility.


04-28-2008, 02:30 PM
There is a lot of really interesting and practical techniques that American Indians used.

I recall reading once that some of the prairie dwellers developed a technique for using bone as fuel. They dug a "funnel" in from the windward side of a ridge that led to a fire-pit to provide a natural bellows effect.

-Rob A>

04-28-2008, 02:49 PM
How cool is that?! And yet the Europeans considered them savages...

04-28-2008, 05:54 PM
I can see 3DStudio being used for next months challenge already.

04-28-2008, 06:12 PM
I'm just wondering what other ways we can do maps, rather than in our usual form.

05-29-2014, 07:25 PM
Here's a new link to another Inuit map of a similar kind, made with driftwood and sealskin. Inuit cartography: Map of a Greenland bay carved by Silas Sandgreen in 1925 (http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_vault/2014/01/08/inuit_cartography_map_of_a_greenland_bay_carved_by _silas_sandgreen_in_1925.html)