Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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aniqsaaqsuun “breather”
Language: Qawiaraq Iñupiaq

The qargi had a floor all around. With wood, they’d make fire in the middle, and there was a hole up there [in the roof] for the smoke to go out. So when it got warm, the men started the sauna. And when it got real hot, they’d bite this one to make breathing easier.

—Anna Etageak, 2001

Men took dry-heat sweat baths (saunas) in the qargi, or community house. The bathers wore respirator masks over their mouths to protect their lungs and to help them endure the intense heat. The masks were made from fine wood shavings or woven grass, bound together in an oval pad with a wooden tooth grip on the back.

Culture: Iñupiaq
Region: Norton Sound, Alaska
Village: Unalakleet
Object Category: Homes
Dimensions: Length 14cm
Accession Date: 1918
Source: Harley Stamp (collector)
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 077380.000