Ceremonial headgear. Kodiak Eskimos. USA , Alaska state, Kodiak. North America, The North-West of the continent, Alaska, Kodiak Island. Prior to 1792.

Ceremonial headgear
Collection MAE RAS: № 562-2
Image ID: 4070476
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Museum inventory number:
№ 562-2
Title:
Ceremonial headgear
Ethnicity:
Kodiak Eskimos
Place:
USA , Alaska state, Kodiak
Geography:
North America, The North-West of the continent, Alaska, Kodiak Island
Date:
prior to 1792
Collector:
Billings Joseph, English mariner in Russian service, leader of the Northeastern Geographical Expedition (1785-1794) for exploration of the North Pacific
Materials:
wood, paint, reindeer hair, harbor seal skin, baleen, sinew
Dimensions:
length 28 cm, width 20.5 cm, height 14 cm
Commentation:
Hunters’ hats carved like the heads of harbor seals are found only among the Kodiak Alutiit and the Chugach. Other groups of Eskimos do not have them. Close parallels may be found in the war helmets of the Tlingit that are carved like the heads of various animals including the sea lion. However they were used for different purposes. The light hats of the Alutiit were used as a hunting disguise while the heavy and massive helmets of the Tlingit were used to protect their heads during battles and at times as costumes when performing ritual dances. They hunt harbor seals by using a decoy of the animal (ilishuak) that they inflate and place in the tidal plain, that is the coastal sand-banks, which are covered with water during high tide and dry at low tide, where these animals are found. The hunter, sitting behind his decoy wearing a wooden hat resembling the head of a harbor seal, yells “uva” in a voice disguised to sound like a seal. When an animal approaches the decoy he shoots him with a harpoon to which is attached a cord of 10 sazhens (a sazhen is equivalent to 2.13 meters) in length, pulls it up on the beach, and finishes it off with a log club “pikkhudak”’(Gedeon 1994: 74—75).
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