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Bolas

avleqaghtat “bolas”
Language: St. Lawrence Island Yupik

We had fun with those. It doesn’t scare the birds away because there’s no shotgun sounds. So there, another group comes.

—Branson Tungiyan, 2001

In the past hunters used bolas to bring down flying ducks and geese. The weights fanned out as they flew through the air, and with the slightest touch wrapped themselves around a bird. Roger Silook said about hunting oldsquaw ducks, “These birds fly real low, and when the moon is shining bright the men use their bolas to catch them. It is the best exercise I know” (from Stories the Old People Told on St. Lawrence Island, 1976). Bola strings were made of sinew, and the weights were usually walrus ivory or bone. Wooden balls, as on this set, were used over water.

Culture: St. Lawrence Island Yupik
Region: St. Lawrence Island, Alaska
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length 30cm
Accession Date: 1882
Source: E. W. Nelson (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E063258