Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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ipuun “ladle”
Language: Central Yup'ik

Qanrulluku-llu, ilaani-gguq qaruskiiki mer’put-gguq neqnirquq. Ilaani-gguq taisqekiiliki wangkutnun. (Then tell it to tell it to tell its relatives that our water tastes good. Tell it to tell his relatives to come to us.)

—Neva Rivers, 2002

The painting of a seal on this serving ladle recalls a traditional ritual practice. Women greeted seals that their husbands had killed, using a ladle to offer the animal fresh snow or drinking water and to sprinkle moisture on its flipper joints. This completed the seal’s journey from water to land and satisfied its thirst. The seal’s spirit would let others know to come to the hunters of that village.

Culture: Yup’ik
Region: Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta, Alaska
Village: Sfaganuk
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 17.2cm
Accession Date: 1879
Source: Edward W. Nelson (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E038634