Navigational Chart

Marshall Islands
20th–mid 20th century
Artist Unidentified, Pacific Islander

Findspot: Marshall Islands, Micronesia


Overall: 66 x 63 cm (26 x 24 13/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Bamboo, cowrie shells, and twine

On View

Arts of Asia, Oceania, and Africa Gallery (Gallery 177)


Africa and Oceania



The inhabitants of the Marshall Islands are skilled sailors, able to traverse vast distances in large outrigger canoes. This is an example of the sailing charts that once aided their voyages. Bent sticks indicated wave formations, while shells referred to the location of islands. The unique design of these functional objects has attracted the attention of museums and collectors, who appreciate them for their formal qualities. In 1961 Governor Carlton Skinner and Solange Skinner received this chart as an official present from the government of the Marshall Islands, then under U.S. administration as the eastern most part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.


1961, presented by the local government of the Marshall Islands to Governor Carlton Skinner (b. 1913 - d. 2004) and Solange Petit (Skinner), Boston; 2002, year-end gift of Carlton Skinner and Solange Skinner to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 22, 2003)

Credit Line

Gift of Governor Carlton Skinner and Solange Skinner