Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

 

Earrings

aqlitek “pair of earrings”
Language: Central Yup'ik

When babies are first born women cut their cord, and at the same time they pierce their ears… Mamevkayunakek roll-arturluku. Iikegcinaluni-gguq. (Never let it close, keep it open with a roll [of grass]). To have good eyesight, they said.

—Neva Rivers, 2002

Yup’ik women, especially those living in villages south of the lower Yukon River, wore earrings, necklaces, and labrets (lip ornaments) in designs that combined glass trade beads with walrus ivory hooks and fasteners. When a young girl’s ears were pierced, braided caribou hair or ivory pins were put in the holes to keep them from closing, which would ruin her eyesight. Designs on the earrings represent Ellam Yua, the Person of the Universe.

Culture: Yup’ik
Region: Togiak River, Alaska
Village: Tuniakpuk
Object Category: Ornaments, jewelry
Dimensions: Length 5.5cm
Accession Date: 1886
Source: Sgt. Samuel Applegate (donor, collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E127473