M976.102.4 | Carving

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Creative Commons License
Anonyme - Anonymous
1950-1955, 20th century
Wood, bone, cotton thread, pigment
8.4 x 5.3 x 8.9 cm
Gift of Dr. Walter Pfeiffer
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Carving (301)
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Keys to History

This carving depicts a kneeling man leaning over a hole in the ice, holding a baited jig in one hand and a fishing leister in the other. Traditionally, the three-pronged leister, or fish spear, was fashioned from antler and metal with a wood handle.

The carving is unusual in that it is made of wood rather than soapstone. It was carved by an Inuit patient sent south to Quebec City for medical treatment, and wood was the only material available there.

The Inuit supplemented their diet throughout the year with a variety of freshwater and saltwater fish. They usually fished alone and employed fish spears or fishing lines. However, the most intensive fishery took place at the end of summer when the salmon migrated from the sea back to the inland lakes. Several families worked together to build a dike across a river, leaving a narrow opening so the fish could swim into a shallow holding pond blocked off with stones. Women and children used stones and sticks to frighten the salmon into the shallows, where the men speared them in great numbers.

  • What

    This is a wooden carving of a man fishing using a leister (fish spear) and a jig.

  • Where

    This object was carved at Parc Savard Hospital in Quebec City.

  • When

    The carving was made in 1955.

  • Who

    This carving is signed in syllabics and spells Kulula/Kolola, which is a common family name today in Kimmiruk (Lake Harbour).