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Headdress

qaghpa “ceremonial headdress”
Language: St. Lawrence Island Yupik

The women always wore this when their husbands had killed a whale; they took that ceremonial pail down to the beach filled with water.

—Estelle Oozevaseuk, 2001

When a successful whaling boat returned to camp, the captain’s wife brought food and water to the crew. She greeted them and the whale, dressed in a snow-white intestine parka and wearing a reindeer hair headdress. If her husband had killed ten whales or more she wore the headdress on top of her head and if fewer she tilted it to the side. Women of some clans twisted reindeer hair into their braids as “as a symbol of the whale taken” (Lincoln Blassi, Lore of St. Lawrence Island, 1985).

Culture: St. Lawrence Island Yupik
Region: St. Lawrence Island, Alaska
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 78cm
Accession Date: 1913
Source: Riley D. Moore (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E280150