Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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tassiitaq “backpack yoke”
Language: Central Yup'ik

We took that [rope], pulled it here [over the shoulders] … and then stood up [gestures bending under heavy load] and walked and walked and walked.

—Neva Rivers, 2002

A chest yoke was fastened to a burden basket or other heavy load that rode on a person’s back, making it easier to carry. This red-painted yoke is carved with a woman’s face, her tattoos visible at the corners of her mouth, and decorated with caribou teeth. When a yoke was not used a grass rope was tied across the chest instead, as Neva Rivers describes.

Culture: Yup’ik
Region: Nunivak Island, Alaska
Object Category: Baskets, bags, boxes
Dimensions: Length: 51.5cm
Accession Date: 1874
Source: William H. Dall (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E016251