Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/702

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

by fastening at the proper places shells or pebbles of sizes proportioned to the magnitude of the islands to which they are intended to correspond.

In some of the Australasian islands the tattooing of the body is made to bear a geographical significance. Lütke remarked in 1828 that on some of the Caroline Islands the chiefs had lines tattooed on their bodies, with each of which they associated the name of some island or group. Thus, these savages carried around with them on their own persons geographical directories that could not be lost—certainly one of the most original geographical and mnemotechnic devices of which we have any record.

These incidents point to a peculiar capacity or sense of the relation of directions on the part of the people of the islands of the great sea, which is manifested in many different ways. These people do not have the materials which we use for such purposes; but, when they are furnished with them and have learned to use them, they soon acquire facility in making maps according to our ideas. Their capacity to accomplish this can not admit of dispute, when it is remembered to what immense distances they are able to go straight with their little narrow canoes. Every European seaman must admire the skill of the Caroline-Islanders, who succeed in traveling with such sureness over the length and breadth of their group, through spaces in which one of the islands may be more than eight hundred miles from its neighbor. There are numbers, not of theoretical geographers, but of practical sailors, who are acquainted with the islands, and have observed the achievements of the natives, who will bear me out in this. There are now in existence a few maps made by Polynesians with European writing materials that afford a permanent testimony of the clearness of mind with which these "wild" people control their sea-voyages. The most famous of them is the one made by Tupaya of Tahiti, a man who went with Cook on his first voyage through the main part of the Australasian Archipelago. It comprises not less than forty degrees of longitude, extending from the Panmotu Islands in the east to the Feejee group in the west. While the most striking feature of this work is the great extent of what is correctly and plainly set down, some New Zealand maps attest the special knowledge the makers had of the details of their native land. One of these was compiled in 1798, before any European colony had been founded in New Zealand; another was published by Shorthand in 1854.

The Esquimaux have contributed important service to the enlargement of knowledge by the aid they have given to the older and the more recent explorers, from whom their achievements in cartography have received special praise. They have supplied European and American sailors with most valuable directions by drawings on both sand and paper. They are accustomed to designate with great care all the projecting points of the land, even the smallest ones, but all of their