Wednesday, December 5, 2007

And Now For Something Completely Different

I’ve seen some wild and crazy maps before (like the map of Europe made out of clothes), but this 1884 Inuit Map tops my list.

At first glance, I thought it was just a neat wood carving, but it is actually a map of Greenland’s sinuous coastline. While in their kayaks in the darkness of the night, the Inuits traced the contours of this wood carving map to navigate. Points and angles in the carving correspond with the geography of the shore. The angle on the edge of the map relates to the steepness of the shoreline. When paddling south along the coast, a user would follow the right side of the carving from top to bottom; then switch to the left side reading from bottom to top.

You can see this map out for yourself beginning March 16 at the Walters Art Museum, as it will be part of the Maps: Finding Our Place in the World exhibit.

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