This is a 3-dimensional, tactile coastal map made from Caribou antler. It acted as an aid for the Inuit hunter at night by providing essential information on landmarks and distance. This one would have been attached to clothing or worn around the neck.

Normally such maps were made from driftwood. These small maps were intended to be carried within one’s mittens. Such maps represented coastlines in a continuous line, up one side of the wood piece and then down the other. They’re designed to be buoyant, tactile and could be read during the dark hours.

Originally listed in accession register as “carved bone, Dibble’s Hill, Santa Barbara, California.” Acquired by WSM D’Urban.

L. 120 x W. 38mm

Possibly inherited by D’Urban from his paternal grandfather Sir Benjamin D’Urban, who was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in Canada, 1846. William Stewart Mitchell D’Urban accompanied him at the age of 10 until 1849 when he became infected with diptheria. An attempt to cure him left him deaf, and prevented him from following his father and grandfather into military service. D’Urban instead became a keen naturalist.
Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
Scientific instruments
Common Name
Simple Name
Full Name
navigation aid
whole length 120 mm; whole width 38 mm
Cultural Group
Production Year High
Production Parish
Coastal Inuit
Production County
Production Country
Production Area Region
North America
Production Continent
North America
Family Group

caribou antler
Function Name
Collection Area Region
Collection Continent
Inscription / Transcription
Dibble’s Hill, Santa Barbara, CALIFORNIA

    There are 5 comments

    • Tony Eccles, RAMM Ethnography Curator
      22 March 2017 | Permalink | Reply to this comment

      They’re normally wood. This one’s bone.

    • Caito Herreros, Spanish Interpreter for Multilingua and art lover
      22 March 2017 | Permalink | Reply to this comment

      You have to be clever to read it.

    • Tony Eccles, RAMM Ethnography Curator
      22 March 2017 | Permalink | Reply to this comment

      It was tied to a coat. You could go fishing at night…. and know your way on the coast. I think you’d have to have clear sky…. A blind person would make more sense of it than us. I was once in an exhibition where it was dark, and you had to touch and smell things.

    • Rosamund Davis, RAMM volunteer
      22 March 2017 | Permalink | Reply to this comment

      I think this is very interesting as a map. We are used to maps being visual with the landscape laid out from an aerial perspective. We are used to seeing everything. But it is tactile. It’s a different way of understanding the world. If it’s from within the Arctic circle, then four months of the year is spent in darkness.

    • Tony Eccles, RAMM Ethnography Curator
      22 March 2017 | Permalink | Reply to this comment

      It is a tactile map and you feel your way – each notch represents you travelling round the landscape. The map represents a small stretch of coastline.

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