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Creator Nationality: North American; Native American; Aleutian; Bering
Creator Name-CRT: Old Bering Sea peoples
Title: Harpoon Head
View: Principal view
Creation Start Date: 300
Creation End Date: 499
Creation Date: 4th?5th century
Creation Place: United States, Alaska
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Materials and Techniques: Ivory (walrus)
Dimensions: H. 6 in. (15.2 cm)
Description: Walrus ivory was made into objects of utilitarian function and/or personal finery by the peoples living in the arctic cold of the Bering Strait. Few of these well-conceived, intimately scaled objects were as utilitarian in purpose as the harpoon heads that were the foremost element of toggling harpoons. An Alaskan favorite, such harpoons were used to hunt sea mammals, which not only constituted the basis of local subsistence but provided the very material from which the harpoon parts were fabricated. Harpoons had to be beautifully made in order to attract the spirits of their prey?necessary for a successful hunt?and they were best ornamented with images that enhanced the hunter's power. Depictions of long-beaked, elegantly rendered predatory birds often appear on the harpoon heads. These images were part of an overall philosophy that mandated respect for the hunted by the refinement and elaboration of both the equipment and clothing used for the hunt. The ivory acquired its deep rich browns and tans through burial in the permafrost.
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York
ID Number: 1981.358.1
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1981
Copyright: Copyright ? 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All rights reserved.
Style or Period: Old Bering Sea
AMICA ID: MMA_.1981.358.1
AMICA Library Year: 2002
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright (c) 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All Rights Reserved
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