Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Harpoon counterbalance

yaqellengetaq “harpoon counterbalance”
Language: St. Lawrence Island Yupik

The more delicate the designs are, the greater the hunter.

—Branson Tungiyan, 2001

Carvers of the Old Bering Sea culture engraved delicate, curving lines on harpoons and other objects made of walrus ivory. The beauty of the designs may have been intended to please and attract animals. This wing-like carving attached to the back end of a harpoon, giving the weapon balance for throwing and perhaps helping it to fly straight to its target. (Replica; original artifact from the Old Bering Sea III period, A.D. 400 - 800.)

Culture: St. Lawrence Island Yupik
Region: Alaska
Village: Point Hope
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length 20.8cm
Accession Date: 1880
Source: William H. Dall (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: A042927-1