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Kayak hunting charm in the shape of a sea otter
Kayak hunting charm in the shape of a sea otter
Date:
ca. 1850
Location:
Not on display
Century:
Media:
Walrus Tusk And Sea Lion Whiskers
Dimensions:
1 x 3 x 1 1/4 in.
Object Type:
Country:
Continent:
North America
Culture/People:
Eskimo, Alutiiq
Accession Number:
2007.21.183
Acquisition Date:
2007-06-21
Credit Line:

Bequest of Thomas G. Fowler

Kayak deck cleat carved in the form of a male sea otter. Rendered in ivory, the otter is shown “swimming on its back”. A decorative dot pattern on the sea otter's belly is achieved with the use of inset sea lion whiskers cut flush with the surface. This cleat was one of a pair that was fastened to lines securing the hunter's weapons to the deck of the kayak or bidarka. Sea otters had a central place in Aleut mythology. They were believed to have originated when the benevolent Deity, to alleviate parental grief, transformed an incestuous brother-sister pair who had thrown themselves (or were thrown) into the sea, into sea otters.