L45.30 | Model rifle
Anonyme - Anonymous
1900-1909, 20th century
1.3 x 0.5 x 13 cm
Gift of Mr. Hugh A. Peck
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Model (422)
Keys to History
This tiny carving of a rifle is remarkably detailed, which reflects the importance of rifles in the worldview of the Inuit. With a rifle a hunter could make his kill from a greater distance than with a bow or spear; this was more efficient and far safer. But only the most talented hunters and trappers could accumulate sufficient skins to trade for a rifle. Bullets were expensive, too. Inuit Elders today still tell stories of leaving for a long hunt with only a handful of bullets. They fired only if they were absolutely sure of making a kill.
The Inuit had a long history of carving small figures and household items in ivory, whether as amulets or toys for children. When European whalers and explorers made their appearance in Nunavik waters, the Inuit created ivory trinkets like this as trade items.
This is a model rifle carved of ivory, possibly from walrus or narwhal tusk.
Mr. Hugh A Peck probably bought this model in Kuujjuaq (formerly Fort Chimo) during his voyage aboard the Revillion Frères steamer from Montreal to James Bay and back.
In 1909 Mr. Hugh A Peck travelled by steamer from Montreal to James Bay. According to his journal he spent several days in Fort Chimo in late September.
Mr. Hugh A. Peck noted in his journal that he acquired "a lot of ivory" from a Mr. Cotter at the Hudson's Bay company post. In these days, Hudson's Bay company personnel seldom bothered to record the name of a particular item's carver.