“carver, curved knife”
Language: Qawiaraq Iñupiaq
miłghaq “carver, curved knife”
Language: Qawiaraq Iñupiaq
Yes, that’s to make bowls, spoons, buckets. I have one of these at home that belonged to my dad. This is what you call miłqhaq [carver, curved knife].
—Oscar Koutchak, 2001
Knives with curved blades are all-purpose tools, for shaving and whittling wood, hollowing out concave surfaces, and carving fine details.
Region: Norton Sound, Alaska
Object Category: Tools
Object Type: Knife
Accession Date: 1947
Source: J. A. L. Moller (donor)
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 210562.000
Oscar Koutchak: Miłqhaq.
(Carver, curved knife [also called miłkaq].)
Anna Etageak: To make a spoon or something.
Oscar Koutchak: Yes, that’s to make bowls, spoons, buckets. I have one of these at home that belonged to my dad. This is what you call miłqhaq. There’s a bowl over here somewhere, that’s how they make it.
Theresa Nanouk: They carve the inside [make a concave surface].
Oscar Koutchak: They use this thing to scrape [surface of wood].
Theresa Nanouk: To carve.
Oscar Koutchak: Yes, carve. The one my father had is made out of file. I’ve seen my dad making bowls and berry buckets. I don’t know what they used before this [metal blade] was developed, but this thing is widely used.
[From discussion with Frances Charles, Anna Etageak, Art Ivanoff (Native Village of Unalakleet), Oscar Koutchak, Theresa Nanouk and Branson Tungiyan (Kawerak, Inc.) at the National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of the American Indian, 5/07/2001-5/11/2001. Also participating: Aron Crowell, Bill Fitzhugh and Stephen Loring (NMNH) and Suzi Jones (AMHA).]
1. This entry includes discussion of curved knife E032880.
Men in the Bering Strait region made their own tools for carving wood and ivory.(1) One such tool, still widely used today, is a curved knife or “carver”—also called a “crooked” knife. A curved knife is suitable for all kinds of whittling, carving, and finishing tasks, including work on boxes, trays, tubs, harpoon shafts, bows, arrows and frames.(2) Because of its curved edge, this type of knife can carve grooves and concave interiors as well as thin, flat surfaces.(3) The blade—made from scrap metal or a piece of steel knife or file—is fastened to a wood, bone or antler handle, using lashings made of split roots, sinew, or sealskin.(4) Sharpened beaver and porcupine incisors were used as blades before metal was available.(5)
1. Ray 1966:54, 110
2. Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:168, 171; Hoffman 1897:783; Nelson 1899:85-86; Ray 1966:54, 110
3. Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:171-72; Ray 1966:54
4. Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:168, 171-72; Hoffman 1897:783
Nelson 1899:85-86; Ray 1966:54, 110
5. Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:168, 171; Smith 1980:90