Arrow Straightener

North America | Alaska

Arrow Straightener

Alaska

Arrow Straightener in the form of a caribou
Inupiaq
Ancient Eskimo

Late 18th or early 19th century
Walrus tooth
Length: 15 cm – 6 in.

Provenance
Ex collection Marc de Monbrison (1942-1985), Paris
By descent

Published: FAB Paris, 2023
Sold
As noted by William Fitzhugh and Susan Kaplan in Inua: Spirit World of the Bering Sea Eskimo (Washington, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982, pages 56 & 107) « the arrowshaft straightener (nalqigutek) is a vital implement in a hunter's tool kit, and is used to straighten the wooden shafts of arrows used to hunt caribou, birds, and fish. Found throughout western Alaska, those from north of the Yukon are often carved in the form of caribou ». The straightener is used by wedging the end of the arrow shaft inside the diamond-shaped cavity to gain leverage and apply pressure.
Besides its functional purpose, this sculpture carries profound shamanic significance. The hole on the caribou belly aligns with the actual target the hunter will need to aim for. This cavity is also considered to be a passage between worlds, an allegory of the shamanic voyage.

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