In 2000 Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) issued a
stamp with a wooden map as a part of the Cultural Heritage series.
“...wood was, and is, the most distinctive medium used
by the Greenland Eskimos in mapmaking. Blocks are carved in relief to
represent the rugged coastline of Greenland with its fjords, islands,
nunataks and glaciers, the shapes of the various islands being linked
together with rods. In order to reduce the size of the blocks, the
outline of the coast is carried up one side and down the other.”
Leo Bagrow, History of Cartography.
Revised and enlarged
By R.A. Skelton. Cambridge, Harvard U.
Press, 1960, p. 27.
Three-dimensional maps of coastlines were carved of wood as long as
three hundred years ago. These Inuit charts were usually carved from
driftwood and are made to be felt rather than looked at.
The land is very abstract. It is limited to “edges”
that can be felt on a dark night in a kayak. Since they are made of
wood they are impervious to the weather, and will float if they are
dropped overboard accidentally.
The map on the stamp is
shown in Plate II of Bagrow’s book.
As it appears in the
The map is a three-dimensional Ammassalik Eskimo coastal map of parts
of the fjord coast of east Greenland, carved in wood, apparently by
Kunit from Umivik.
Cartography in the Traditional African, American,
Arctic, Australian, and Pacific Societies.
The History of Cartography, Vol. Two, Book
Three. (ed. by David Woodward and G. Malcolm Lewis:
The University of Chicago Press, 1998, pp. 168f.