Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Harpoon socketpiece

iquyaq “socketpiece”
Language: St. Lawrence Island Yupik

My wife found a whaling harpoon socketpiece... When you turn it, you can see all different kinds of animals. You look at it from one angle and it looks like an animal, you look at it from the top, it becomes a different animal.

—Branson Tungiyan, 2001

This socketpiece fit on the front end of an Old Bering Sea harpoon to hold the weapon’s head and foreshaft. The carving style suggests that this archaeological socket piece was made between A.D. 400 - 800 (the Old Bering Sea II period). Some socketpieces are carved with clear animal heads and faces, but this one is more abstract; the circular designs may be eyes.

Culture: St. Lawrence Island Yupik
Region: Probably St. Lawrence Island, Alaska
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length 25cm
Accession Date: 1931
Source: Carl J. Lomen (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: A332180