Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge



qantaq “bowl, plate, dish”
Language: Central Yup'ik

When I became aware of life, we already had wooden bowls like this, just our size. Our dad had a large bowl, our mom had a smaller one, and beginning with our oldest brother we all had bowls…When I walked into the middle of the men’s house, I used to see bowls being made by elderly men.

—John Phillip, Sr., 2002

This wooden food dish, painted inside with a caribou connected to a caribou spirit, has a carved bottom and a bentwood rim. Everyone had a personal eating bowl which was decorated with inherited family designs. Men and older boys ate in the qasgiq (men’s ceremonial house), receiving meals brought there by their wives, daughters, or sisters. In the qasgiq, men carved bowls from driftwood pieces they collected during summer. Making new dishes was part of preparing for the Bladder Festival (Nakaciuryaraq) when the souls of seals were symbolically returned to the sea.

Culture: Yup’ik
Region: Yukon & Kuskokwim River Delta, Alaska
Village: Nulukhtulogumut
Object Category: Housewares
Dimensions: Length 24.2cm
Accession Date: 1879
Source: E. W. Nelson (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E038644