ME982X.86.1 | Snow goggles

Snow goggles
Anonyme - Anonymous
1865-1900, 19th century
Wood, sinew, pigment
2.6 x 10.8 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Goggles (10)
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Keys to History

Snow goggles were an important item of personal gear for Inuit hunters and travellers. They are also a good example of the ingenuity the Nunavimmiut employed in order to operate in a challenging environment. In Nunavik, ice and snow cover the land and sea for nearly nine months of the year, reflecting and intensifying any sunlight. A hunter who ventured out without snow goggles was at serious risk for snow blindness, a painful form of temporary blindness caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays. Although the condition was usually temporary, the individual was incapacitated.

  • What

    This is a pair of snow goggles, carved from a single piece of wood and attached with a string made of braided sinew. The inside of the goggles around the eyeholes is blackened with soot to suppress glare. Goggles were also made from ivory or caribou antler.

  • Where

    We do not know where these goggles were collected, and their style is not distinctive enough for us to determine their place of origin.

  • When

    This particular pair of goggles was probably made between 1865 and 1900. Snow goggles were undoubtedly used by many centuries of Inuit, and they are still used today by those Inuit who continue to hunt traditionally.

  • Who

    It is not known who made these goggles. Each hunter probably made his or her own.