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Accueil > Archives > Ancients projets de recherche > Anthropologie des mathématiques > Version anglaise > Our project > String figures in New Guinea and Arctic

String figures in New Guinea and Arctic

Final Figures of a game recorded in the Trobriand Islands
[Senft, Gunter et Senft, Barbara 1986]

The first corpus, about string figures practiced in the Trobriand Islands, was published by Gunter and Barbara Senf (2) in 1986. The second one was recorded by the French explorer Paul-Emile Victor (3)in 1935/36, on the East coast of Greenland, in a province called Angmassalik. This study has shown that a string figure may be truly seen as an algorithm, using concepts such as operations, sub-procedures, iterations, and transformations. This seems to confirm the existing link between string figures and mathematics. The comparison between the string figures made in such different places shows that the simple operations involved for the procedures are usually very similar whereas the “sub-procedures” ( a set of several simple operations) are more specific and probably deeply linked to the culture.