ME937.12.1-13 | Model kayak and equipment

Model kayak and equipment
Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Arctic
Inuit: Nunavimiut
1900-1925, 20th century
Sealskin, sinew, ivory, wood, copper, iron
7 x 10.6 x 94.2 cm
Gift of Miss Mabel Molson
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Model (422)
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Keys to History

This model kayak was probably produced as a sort of tourist trinket to sell to Europeans, but its maker took great care to reproduce the characteristic shape of the kayak used by the Inuit of Nunavik. The model is complete with all the equipment that an Inuk hunter would typically use, including a double-bladed paddle, a bird spear, a harpoon for spearing larger game such as seals and belugas, and a float that prevented the game from sinking.

For most hunters a kayak was probably their first major piece of equipment, and acquiring one involved great effort. The hunter first had to kill four or five bearded seals to make the kayak covering and also collect enough wood to build the frame. Preparing the skins and sewing them onto the frame was women's work and involved a day or more of effort by five to eight women.

An Inuk with a kayak could hunt more efficiently because he was no longer restricted to hunting seals at the edge of the icepack, and he could also hunt walrus on the islands. Successful hunters could eventually acquire enough skins to make a tent and a family boat called an umiaq.

  • What

    This is a model kayak made of sealskin covering a wooden frame. The hunting equipment fastened to the deck includes a harpoon, a bird spear, a trident and a float.

  • Where

    This model comes from the Ungava Bay area of Nunavik, northern Quebec, Canada.

  • When

    This model kayak was probably made between 1900 and 1925.

  • Who

    There is no record of the Inuk who made this model, but it was probably made to sell or trade to European visitors.