Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Navigational Chart (Rebbilib)

19th–early 20th century
Republic of the Marshall Islands
Marshallese people
Coconut midrib, fiber
H. 35 1/4 x W. 43 1/4 x D. 1 in. (89.5 x 109.9 x 2.5 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of the Estate of Kay Sage Tanguy, 1963
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 353
Navigational maps, commonly known as "stick charts," were originally used in the Marshall Islands by navigators during long ocean voyages. Although stylized, the charts were functional objects providing information on the locations of individual islands as well as wave patterns.

This example consists of a gridlike structure of seven vertical sticks lashed to four horizontal ones. The corners extend outside the main grid, while three curved strips, possibly representing the patterns of ocean swells, extend from side to side. The intersections created by the slanting sticks at the corners may indicate the locations of specific islands. In some instances, small cowrie shells, absent on this example, are also used to indicate the positions of individual islands.
#1186. Navigational Chart (Rebbilib)
#1755. Navigational Chart (Rebbilib)
For Audio Guide tours and information, visit
Kay Sage Tanguy Estate, until 1963; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1963–1978

Haddon, A., and James Hornell. "Canoes of Oceania." Bernice P. Bishop Museum Special Publication vols. 1–3 (1938), p. 372.

Kjellgren, Eric. Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007, no. 169, pp. 280–281.

Kjellgren, Eric. "The Pacific Resurfaces: New Galleries for Oceanic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Tribal Art (Winter 2007–2008), p. 107, 17.

Kjellgren, Eric. How to Read Oceanic Art. How to Read 3. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014, pp. 137–38.

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