East African Ground Maps

Sabatele's Map of the Main Caravan Routes in East Africa

Sabatele’s map of the main caravan routes in East Africa. Paper and pencil. This map with its southerly orientation traces the main caravan routes across Tanzania, with the terminus points placed at Dar es Salaam. Size of the original: unknown. Current location: unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Archiv Museum fur Volkerkunde za Leipzig (Neg. Af 0 1428; from the originial glass plate negative).

The scene of Africans drawing ground maps to the profound surprise of Europeans is a recurring theme of the exploration literature. The German geographer Karl Weule was “overwhelmed” by the number of maps members of his caravan produced during a six-month research expedition through German East Africa in 1906. Between marches, he supplied his carriers with paper and pencils to see what they would draw. This is the map made by a Mambwe man named Sabatele, originally from the southern shore of Lake Tanganyika near the present Tanzania-Zambia border. The map, which traces caravan routes across Tanzania, was made in Lindi at the very beginning of Weule’s expedition. Weule notes that Sabatele’s map was oriented with south at the top, but he turned it around 180 degrees “in order to bring it into agreement with our maps.”

Source: The History of Cartography, Volume 2, Book 3: Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean. Edited by David Woodward and G. Malcolm Lewis ©1998

Locations on this map:
1. “Mawopanda,” Dar es Salaam
2. “Lufu,” the Ruvu River, a large river frequently crossed on the main caravan road by Wanyamwezi carriers, one of whom created this map
3. “Mulokolo,” Morogoro, the terminus for the central railway at the time
4. “Mgata,” Makata, plain between the Uluguru and Rubeho mountains, a swamp during the rainy season
5. “Kirosa,” Kilosa
6. “Balabala,” the caravan road
7. “Mwapwa,” Mpwapwa, the old caravan center, once the last stop on the inland march before the great alkali desert, Marenga Mkali, and hostile Ogogo
8. Mutiwe, a stream near Kilimatinde
9. Kilimatinde, a mountain
10. Kasanga
11. Kondoa-Irangi
12. Post of Kalama, in Iramba (Mkalama?)
13a. “Tobola,” Tabora, with the new boma (enclosure/fort)
13b. “Tobola ya zamani,” Old Tabora with the former boma
14. Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika
15. Mwanza on Lake Victoria

Inuit Cartography

InuitCartography.jpg

In Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland), the Inuit people are known for carving portable maps out of driftwood to be used while navigating coastal waters. These pieces, which are small enough to be carried in a mitten, represent coastlines in a continuous line, up one side of the wood and down the other. The maps are compact, buoyant, and can be read in the dark.

These three wooden maps show the journey from Sermiligaaq to Kangertittivatsiaq, on Greenland’s East Coast. The map to the right shows the islands along the coast, while the map in the middle shows the mainland and is read from one side of the block around to the other. The map to the left shows the peninsula between the Sermiligaaq and Kangertivartikajik fjords.

Source: Topografisk Atlas Grønland