Primary Source

Marshall Islands Stick Charts

  • Marshall Island Stick Chart, ca. 19th century
  • Marshall Island Stick Chart, ca. 20th century.

Annotation

The Marshall Island stick charts represent a unique and non-Western tradition of mapmaking. Whereas Western maps generally attempt to capture and visualize distance and space, the charts of the Marshallese dwelt not just on general direction, with shells representing nearby islands, but, more importantly, ocean currents and swell movements. This information was crucial in a region where water travel by canoe was the central means of mobility and commerce among island chains. These stick charts illustrate the ways in which mapmaking depends largely on the context and needs of the mapmakers themselves.

Marshall Islands Stick Chart, ca. 19th and 20th centuries.

How to Cite This Source
Marshall Islands Stick Charts in World History Commons,