Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Sinew from whale was used for thread. Needles were made from birds’ legs. Raincoats were made of seal-gut, after it was dried. Sinew from whales was used as thread, then the gut was cut into shapes and sewn together.

—Emily Kvasnikoff, 1981, “Aleksandrovsk, English Bay in its Traditional Way,” 1981

Women used this seal-shaped spool to wind up and store sewing materials for “fancy work.” Sinew thread, dried gut, embroidered bands of seal esophagus, colored yarn, or other sewing materials might have been wrapped on the spool for storage.

Culture: Sugpiaq (Alutiiq)
Region: Alaska Peninsula
Village: Ugashik
Object Category: Tools
Dimensions: Length 10.8cm
Accession Date: 1894
Source: William J. Fisher (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E168632