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Needle case

miqutit puugat “needle case, needle bag”
Language: Qawiaraq Iñupiaq

Because there was no metal to make needles long ago, they made them out of squirrel or duck. They had to always take care of their needles, because they’re bone.

—Anna Etageak, 2001

A northern Iñupiaq style of needle case, complete with all of its parts and ornaments. Bone or iron needles were tucked into the leather strip and pulled inside the tube for safe-keeping. At the ends of the leather fringes a woman attached her husband’s small “starter” labrets, or lip ornaments, that he began wearing at the age of puberty. He wore larger labrets as he grew up.

Culture: Iñupiaq
Region: Norton Sound, Alaska
Object Category: Baskets, bags, boxes
Dimensions: Length 46cm
Accession Date: 1876
Source: Lucien M. Turner (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E024496