I had never thought of shrinking myself either. What an intriguing idea!
I constantly use two memory board based on the lukasa. I have also used etched and illustrated boards based on many other indigenous memory devices including the Australian Aboriginal tjuringa or the Native American birchbark scrolls and song boards. But they are effectively the same as the lukasa. I know many people who have created lukasa based on the information in my previous book, The Memory Code. I didn’t realise then that people would react so well, so in Memory Craft, I explain using them much more thoroughly. Josh has an advance copy. It is published on June 3 2019.
I do use each bead, or group of small beads or carved portion of the board, much as a single memory palace location. I did not believe this would work when I made my first board but found it extraordinarily effective. My most used lukasa now acts as a field guide to the 412 birds of my state. I don’t need it with me to use it, I know it so well.
There is a whole tactile aspect. The boards are used by traditional owners by touching each bead and telling the story connected. That is what I do. Most stories are very brief - the usual sort of memory image, but I then add to them as I add more complex information.
The position on the board, the feel of it, any wood grain around the bead, connections between them … all sorts of things will appear for you to imagine into the knowledge. I know it sounds far-fetched, but during my PhD research I found these devices in use in non-literate cultures all over the world. And those guys memorise vast amounts of information using landscape memory palaces as well as memory boards, so I should not have been surprised how well they work. I also sing the board structure - just the name of each bead.
It feels different mentally to using a memory palace. It is very difficult to explain, but I now know many people who have tried using a board based on a lukasa and use them constantly now. I am afraid that the only way is to try it yourself. I look forward to Josh’s response!
Just to boast, I have actually held the exact lukasa in the Brooklyn Museum image and based my second lukasa on that very example. Each one is unique. There are none in Australia, so after ten years of fascination with these devices I finally held the real thing at the Brooklyn Museum. It was overwhelming.
Here’s a picture which gives the scale and how perfect it is to hold.