Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

 
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Bow drill

niuqtuun “drill, awl, something to make hole with”
Language: Qawiaraq Iñupiaq

Normally this would be accompanied by a number of drills of different sizes either made with stone, chert, flint or some other hard material.

—Ronald Brower, Sr., 2002

The traditional drill was a wooden spindle wrapped in a turn of leather cord and twirled by the back and forth motion of an ivory bow. The upper end of the spindle was held by a mouthpiece inset with a cupped bearing of smooth stone. Craftsmen kept sets of spindles with different sized bits made from stone or iron. Drill bows were engraved with life scenes, like this these showing hunting and dog sledding.

Culture: Iñupiaq
Region: Seward Peninsula, Alaska
Village: Port Clarence
Object Category: Tools
Dimensions: Length: drill: 25cm
Accession Date: 1910
Source: U.S. Department of Interior (donor)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E260132