Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge


Harpoon rest

Those designs, those are big birds that hunt those whales out there, way out there in the seas.

—Jacob Ahwinona, 2001

Images of legendary tiŋmiaqpait [big birds (giant eagles)], each with a whale in its talons, appear on this harpoon rest from the bow of a whaling boat. The birds are remembered for teaching people to practice the Messenger Feast and the Eagle-Wolf Dance. The spiritual aspects of whaling inspire both Iñupiaq art and oral tradition.

Culture: Iñupiaq
Region: Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska
Object Category: Boats
Dimensions: Length 15cm
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E048169