Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

 

Ceremonial pail (218952.000)

Image | Nome, c1901

A whaling captain’s wife at Nome, c1901. In the old custom, she greeted his catch at the edge of the ice. Singing her welcome to the spirit of the whale, she poured fresh water onto its snout from a ceremonial pail. In Iñupiaq belief this quenched the great sea mammal’s thirst for fresh water.

S.R. Bernardi, Wright Collection; Anchorage Museum, B97.19.27.