Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Snuff box

meluskarvik “container for snuff”
Language: Central Yup'ik

Iqmigyunqekapiaralriim ukuk iqmiutaqellrulliit. (Someone who really liked to chew tobacco had this for a tobacco box.)

—Neva Rivers, 2002

Small boxes for storing chewing tobacco or snuff mixed with ash provide some of the finest examples of traditional Yup’ik carving. Paul John said, “Back in those days, people really cherished tobacco. They finely crafted their tobacco boxes.” This box depicts a seal on its back with a smaller seal on top, to form the cover. The surface is decorated with white beads and small ivory pegs, and the seals have collars made of bird quill.

Culture: Yup’ik
Region: Lower Yukon River, Alaska
Village: Mission
Object Category: Baskets, bags, boxes
Dimensions: Length: 11cm
Accession Date: 1882
Source: Edward W. Nelson (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E048839