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INUIT KAYAK

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KAYAK FROM GREENLAND
The kayak was a vital means of transport for hunting and survival in the rigorous arctic environment_ about 1930’s_474 cm_provenance: orssu, h.c. pedersen collection_references: British Museum (London), National museum of the american indians (Washington), Museum of natural history (New York).

The kayak is equipped with all of the neces- sary tools for hunting, such as: a heavy harpoon used to hunt the great sea mammals; a leather thong to retrieve the harpoon; a spear made of iron, wood, and whale bone; a harpoon for hunting birds made of wood, iron and whale bone; a paddle of wood and whale bone; gloves in seal-leather; a float. The kayak itself was made with wood, whale bone, and seal leather. The invention of the kayak made possible the
hunting of great sea mammals in the coldest northern lands. Thanks to the kayak the arctic people’s survival was ensured. The kayak is a very versatile craft. It can be used on placid inland waters as well as off shore.Before its invention the hunting of sea mammals was often very dangerous, difficult, and often unsuccessful. To better understand the importance of these animals in a country where the low temperatures ena- bled survival of just a few forms of life – seals, sea-lions, whales and so on, it must be remembered that they provided the only available sustenance (they supplied meat, leather for clothing, fat for food, fat for fuel, bones and ivory for tools). The Greenland kayaks are mainly known for their peculiar structure. Aside from being fast and agile, when perfectly command- ed, they immediately allow the boat to right itself if turned over. The use of a light frame wrapped into animals’ leathers was a pragmatic choice suggested by the availability of these materials. For the arctic people wood is an extremely rare and precious commodity. As a result they devised a light, swift and resistant craft.

LITERATURE: John D. Heath, EugeneY. Arima, John Brand, Eastern Arctic Kayaks: History, Design, Technique; Hjalmar Petersen, Groenland.

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