Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Navigation chart, known as rebbelib, made of cane (?), fibre, shells.

  • Ethnic name

  • Date

    • 19th Century (Pre- 1892)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 99 centimetres
    • Width: 67.5 centimetres
    • Depth: 3 centimetres
    • Width: 108.1 centimetres (special box)
    • Height: 6 centimetres (special box)
    • Depth: 77.8 centimetres (special box)
  • Curator's comments

    Notes from Dr Arina Lebedeva from the Kunstkamera (Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology), St Petersburg (Oct 2013):

    There are three types of navigational charts. This one is called 'Rebbelib' and is used during navigation, like a map of islands, rather than an 'how to' instructional chart.

    Pencil inscriptions on the individual cane struts - They are the names of the coral atolls.

    For more information on Marshall Islands navigational charts see:
    Davenport, William, Marshall Islands navigational charts, Imago Mundi, Vol 5 (1960) pp.19-26
    Lewis, David, We the navigators, 1972 ANU Press, p.201
    Joyce, T.A. Notes on a native chart from the Marshall Islands in the British Museum in Man Vol. 8 (1908), pp.146-149

    Joyce says: It is likely that the maker of this particular chart is from the Ralik archipelago, since this chain of islands is correctly represented here.See also Dirk HR Spennemann 2005. Traditional and nineteenth century communication patterns in the Marshall Islands. Micronesian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences. 4(1):25-52. And, S. Mallon 2012 'Remembering the Ocean' in P. Brunt and N. Thomas (eds) Art in Oceania. A New History, Thames & Hudson.pp. 56-7.


  • Bibliography

    • D'Alleva 1998 p. 15 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    1983–1986 16 Dec-29 Jun, London, BM, Museum of Mankind, Pattern of islands: Micronesia yesterday and today
    2003, Apr-Sep, BM, 'Museum of the Mind: Art and Memory in World Cultures'
    2003 18 Oct-14 Dec, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2004 17 Jan-28 Mar, Kobe City Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2004 10 Apr-13 Jun, Fukuoka Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2004 26 Jun-29 Aug, Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2011-2012, 6 Oct-19 Feb, London, The British Museum, 'Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman'

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Register slip reads: Purchased 21 June 1904 [Admr. Davis] per Gerrard Collected by Adm. Davis during the cruise of HMS Royalist 1890-93. Davis published his collection of 700 items made as captain of the Royalist in a LIST OF ETHNOGRAPHICAL OBJECTS (BM library shelfmark: MUS/26b-9-6), which bears the handwritten note "BM had first pick - part purchased by Umlauff. Hamburg" Edward Gerrard sold the collection on his behalf. Collected on Admiral Davis' third voyage on the HMS Royalist to Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, specifically between 23rd June 1892 and 4th July 1892.

  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number


Sailing chart made of cane (?), fibre, shells.

Sailing chart made of cane (?), fibre, shells.

Image description



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