Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The eskimo’s tools

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Eskimo at seal hole

Netsilik technology was almost entirely utilitarian in character. Aesthetic manifestations were limited to tattoos on the women’s faces and limbs, long hair sticks, and white fur decorations on the outer coats. An artifact was made because it was indispensable, not because it was pleasing to the senses. The difficulties of travel in the tundra did not allow people to carry useless articles. Every Netsilik Eskimo had to look after his own equipment, make new weapons, and repair the old ones. Despite the complexity of articles such as the kayak and the composite bow, every man had the skills and the tools to be technologically self-sufficient. This was an absolute necessity in the Arctic.

During the long migrations or on hunts, when tools were broken, lost, or worn beyond usefulness, substitutes and alternatives were found. Here the Netsilik showed great ingenuity and resourcefulness. If a spear broke, it was repaired quickly by lashing a snow knife to the shaft; if there was no stick to support the drying rack above the lamp in the igloo, a leister was used; when the soapstone lamp was not there, a shallow stone would do. In adversity the Netsilik was quick to improvise with what he had on hand.

Asen Balikci, The Nesilik Eskimo

Written by nevalalee

October 8, 2015 at 7:30 am

One Response

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  1. Congratulations on the excellent and outstanding as bloc.
    Regards, Antonio

    Estate un rato

    October 8, 2015 at 8:06 am


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