Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

 
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Bolas

tiŋmiagniasutit “bolas”
Language: Bering Strait Iñupiaq

Also called:
qil.amitautit “bolas”
Language: North Slope Iñupiaq

The throwing isn’t twirling around; it’s more like a fastball for a baseball pitcher. You throw it off your heel, twist your torso, and put your arm into it. And you have to lead the bird – that takes practice.

—Paul Ongtooguk, 2009

The bola is a throwing weapon used to bring down flying ducks and geese. It consists of weighted strings that fan out in flight. The bone weights of this set depict seals adorned with circle and dot designs. Paul Ongtooguk said: “My experience with bolas was primarily in the early spring out on the sea ice, when it’s warm with high humidity and fog. There are certain points where the birds pass over, and in the fog they stay down low and fly slowly... If one of the bola ends connects with a bird, the others will wrap around it like a spider web.”

Culture: Iñupiaq
Region: Norton Sound, Alaska
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length: 61cm
Accession Date: 1966
Source: Sarah Imhof (donor)
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 238986.000