M13053 | Bow

Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Arctic
1865-1875, 19th century
Antler, sinew, fibre, metal
16 x 72.1 cm
Gift of the Natural History Society of Montreal
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  bow (72)
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Keys to History

This bow and arrow is a good example of one of the main pieces of equipment used by Inuit hunters before rifles became available in Nunavik. In general Inuit hunters used harpoons to catch marine mammals, snares and traps for small land animals such as Arctic hare and fox, and a bow and arrow for larger animals such as caribou and polar bear.

Hunting caribou with a bow was dangerous because the hunter had to get quite close, and it was not uncommon for the bull caribou to defend its females. Because caribou usually travelled in large herds on well-established routes, hunters usually worked in groups. A popular technique involved using stone decoys to drive the caribou into a pass or gorge, so that the hunters could shoot from higher ground.

  • What

    This bow is made of antler, spliced together with metal and fibre. The wooden arrow has an iron tip and is winged with gyrfalcon feathers.

  • Where

    This particular bow and arrow come from Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin Island) near the Davis Strait. Similar bows and arrows were used throughout Nunavik.

  • When

    This bow and arrow was acquired by J. W. Taylor, who donated it in 1879 to the Natural History Society of Montreal.

  • Who

    It is not known who made this bow and arrow. As a rule, each hunter made his or her own equipment.