Seal Towline

Seal Towline

Braided leather cord with an carved toggle and large ivory bead

Ivory end toggle is carved in the form of a pair of mittened hands holding a seal pup.

Much debate has gone into this piece of the collection. It is an intricately carved Inuit toggle. The mammoth bone ivory was carved to represent mitten clad hands holding a seal. The ivory is attached to a cord made of rawhide. The carving gives us a hint of how the cord may have been used.

A main food staple of the Inuit people when near the water was seal meat. Hunters would go out to the flow edge to hunt them. When the flow edge was too far, holes would be chopped in the ice or found naturally occurring as they were created by the seals for breathing holes. All the holes would be covered but one where the hunter waited. Once the seal came up to breath, the hunter would kill his prey and provide his family with meat.

To get the animal back to camp, the hunter would string a rope with a toggle through the mouth of the seal and secure the line. The rope allowed the hunter to pull his prey home. Although this usage is debateable, the toggle and line must have been important to someone to carve such small and detailed images from the toggle.

Institution

MacBride Museum of Yukon History, Whitehorse

Accession Number

1973.1.107.k

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