Item ESK10 - Eskimo Model Seal Harpoon.

 
If you search the internet for examples of Eskimo-made models, they appear fairly frequently.  Most of the models that you will find are of kyacks that were often made in Alaska for sale to tourists, and in Greenland for sale to U.S. GIs passing through on their way to and from the European Theatre during WWII.  But if search in an earlier time you will find ( largely in museums) the presence of various models (harpoons as well as kyacks” that were collected by early ethnographers from the 18th and 19th centuries.  As examples, here are a couple of “model harpoon” collected in the late 1800s by (a) Robert Peary during his assault on the North Pole, and (b) Capt. George Comer, a New London, Ct. whaling captain who also was a prodigious collector of Inuit artifacts from Hudson Bay and Greenland.  The American Museum in New York has over 4,000 Inuit artifacts collected by Comer in the very early 1900s.  Comer also produced scrimshaw (mainly carved walrus tusks), some of which are on display at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  From the Anthropology Collection of the American Museum of Natural History:

MODEL, HARPOON

NORTH AMERICAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION

 

Catalog No: 60 / 437

Culture: ESKIMO, POLAR

Locale: NORTH GREENLAND, SMITH SOUND

Country: GREENLAND

Material: WOOD, IVORY, HIDE, SINEW

Dimensions: L:88 W:3.5 H:2.5 [in CM]

Acquisition Year: 1895

Donor: PEARY, R. E., LT.

Keywords: MODEL HARPOON

 

MODEL, HARPOON

NORTH AMERICAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION

 

Catalog No: 60 / 4422

Culture: ESKIMO, IGLULIK

Locale: HUDSON BAY, WEST COAST

Country: CANADA

Material: IVORY, WOOD, SINEW, HORN?

Dimensions: L:23 W:1.2 H:1.2 [in CM]

Acquisition Year: 1902 [EXPEDITION]

Donor: COMER, GEORGE, CAPT.

Keywords: MODEL HARPOON

Perry’s example is 88 cm in length (the shaft on Comer’s has been broken).  The model harpoon offered here is 86 cm in length.  A full size Eskimo sealing harpoon was usually in the range of 170 to 190 cm.  Note the ivory “finger rest” on the shaft of Peary’s harpoon, and the finger rest on the one offered here.  Comparing the sinew lashing of the harpoon head and foreshaft between Comer’s example and the present example shows them to be almost identical.  One difference on the model offered here is a walrus ivory tip on the end of the shaft of the one offered here—something that is common on full size Inuit seal harpoons.  The wood shafts are made of pine or spruce, which were likely available to natives mostly as drift wood.  The model here has a shaft that appears to be spruce.  While I don’t think the model here is necessarily of the period, I do believe that it is extremely well made with the proper lashings and details.  I also think that the early “models” found by Peary, Comer, and other explorers were likely made as items for young boys  to practice the craft of harpoon use in their early years.  In all, this is a wonderful artifact of Inuit life.  Fine.

  

Price - $150.00

To order, email sushandel@msn.com

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