Item ESK10 - Bering Strait Repurposed Harpoon Head.  Extraordinary  Fine.  $550.00

A collector’s prize, this whale or walrus harpoon head carries quite a bit of history around with it.  First, the walrus ivory head is 6 ½” long.  The barb is unusual for, instead of a single or double barb, thee barb has been carved in the shape of a whale’s flukes (perhaps of a Beluga whale).  On its top surface there is a finely engraved scene of a spouting bowhead whale that is being approached by an umiak containing 5 hunters.  Four of these are weilding paddles, and the fifth (in the bow) is in the process of throwing a harpoon at the whale.  It is a dynamic scene (I’ve not seen better).  The harpoon head clearly has wear, with dings and chipped edges.  The slot for a slate blade has been worn open, and has ragged edges.  The next phase of its history is that has been secondarily retired from whaling, and has entered its new life as a drum handle.  For cut into the bottom of the front of the old harpoon is a slot for grip the rim of a tambourine like eskimo drum rim, and two lashing holes to fix it to the rim.  So the harpoon head presents the history of a retired hunting tool repurposed into a musical insstrument.  That history is solidified by a phrase crudely engraved into the underside of the harpoon head that reads, “This LONGTIME AGO’’.  The owner is clearly saying that the harpoon head was an old one before its its new identity as a drum handle.  The words, written in English dates the transformation to no more than the late 1890s when missionary schools were teaching English.  But the slot for a slate blade and an umiak hunting scene puts its life as a harpoon to an earlier time..  It is a great item for a scrimshaw or Eskimo collection.

Price -   $550.00

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