“Greenland’s Hand-Sized Wooden Maps Were Used for Storytelling, Not Navigation”

 

 

Left: a wooden map of the East Greenland coast, c. 1885.; Right: umiaq and kayaks, Ammassalik, East Greenland, 1908, by Th. N. Krabbe.

 

“For these seafaring people, geographic knowledge was something remembered and shared through stories and conversations of travels and hunting. “The drawing of charts and maps,” Holm wrote, “was of course quite unknown to the people of [Ammassalik], but I have often seen how clever they were as soon as they grasped the idea of our charts. A native from Sermelik, called Angmagainak, who had never had a pencil in his hand and had only once visited the East coast, drew a fine chart for me covering the whole distance from Tingmiarniut to Sermiligak, about 280 miles.” They also provided him with incredibly detailed descriptions of terrain, flora and fauna, and, in some cases, local weather patterns and lunar and solar cycles. To pass some of this knowledge on to the curious, acquisitive Holm, one hunter presented him with a set of unusual maps that have been, by turns, overlooked, discounted, misunderstood, and, eventually, admired.”

Left: a wooden map of islands off the East Greenland coast, c. 1885; Right: ice field, Ammassalik, East Greenland, 1908, by Th. N. Krabbe.

“But woodcarving was a common activity among the Tunumiit and Holm mentions that carving maps was not out of the ordinary. The Inuit people have used carvings in a certain way—to accompany stories and illustrate important information about people, places, and things. A wooden relief map, would have functioned as a storytelling device, like a drawing in the sand or snow, that could be discarded after the story was told. As geographer Robert Rundstum has noted, in Inuit tradition, the act of making a map was frequently much more important than the finished map itself. The real map always exists in one’s head. Though the maps themselves are unique, the sentiments and view of the world they represent were universal to the culture that made them.”

 

…Much more including annotated manipulatable 3-d models on this great post from Atlas Obscura.

Split

This is an incredible book of many intense stories of the process and survival of divorce. It doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs as a concept but give it time and there’s joy, inspiration, hope, sadness, hilarity, devastation, fun and beauty.

It is an intense read, especially in the knowledge that it is all true, and as someone who has not experienced this directly (I think another reviewer has said this) an incredible window into a world that is not often written about. That intensity might be why it’s taken me so long to finish. I generally have five or so books on the go. I didn’t want to binge this, I wanted to remember each one so I took my time.

Looking forward to other publications from Fiction and Feeling.

Heavily recommended.

Specializing in Cartography

“The first rule of geography is that everything is related to everything else. Today’s cartography reflects exactly that: It combines design, geography, anthropology, human impressions and ideas within spatial contexts. It’s a connector, an aggregator. And, increasingly, it’s a way of telling stories.”

— Chelsea Nestel

 

see also:

“I’ll be there” – The Final Speech of Tom Joad

“I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this.”

I just finished reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.  I have always known of this book but never read it or even knew very much about what is was about.

I really wasn’t prepared by how relevant it was to so many situations occurring globally at the moment. The mass migration of populations due to climate changes, infrastructure collapse and economics, the refusal of a system to help and indeed the full demonisation of those in transit.

The language is beautifully simple and yet says so much about strength, sadness, suffering, perseverance and dignity.

Continue reading

The future, in fiction, is a metaphor.

“All fiction is metaphor. Science fiction is metaphor. What sets it apart from older forms of fiction seems to be its use of new metaphors, drawn from certain great dominants of our contemporary life—science, all the sciences, and technology, and the relativistic and the historical outlook, among them. Space travel is one of these metaphors; so is an alternative society, an alternative biology; the future is another. The future, in fiction, is a metaphor.

A metaphor for what?

If I could have said it non-metaphorically, I would not have written all these words, this novel…”

 –  Ursula K. Le Guin, 1976 Foreword to The Left Hand of Darkness (via Nearlya)

“The Amphitheater of Eternal Knowledge,” Hamburg, 1595.


“The Amphitheater of Eternal Knowledge,” Hamburg, 1595.


“The Amphitheater of Eternal Knowledge,” Hamburg, 1595.


“The Amphitheater of Eternal Knowledge,” Hamburg, 1595.


“The Amphitheater of Eternal Knowledge,” Hamburg, 1595.

“The images, in other words, invite the viewer to engage in a meditation on the nature of the universe and on the links between the earthly and the divine, the corporeal and the spiritual. Of course, such a statement would be equally true of many other instances of early modern alchemical and Hermetic symbolism. I suspect that a lot of the meaning in these images and the text that accompanies them has actually been lost, due to the fact that alchemical practice depended upon face-to-face interactions (like the one between John Dee and Khunrath) which were never recorded. And this was precisely what was intended – the true secrets of early modern alchemy were intended for a small number of the “elect” and were elaborately concealed in complex and often inscrutable language when they were allowed into printed works.”

Benjamin Breen

see more on his excellent blog post.