Artifacts

Toggle Harpoon
ITEM: 752
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Toggle harpoons were used for seal and other sea mammal fishing from prehistoric times. The arrow head connected to the walrus ivory or bone foreshaft. The leather strap then attached to a longer retrieving line.  The blade is iron, set into slit and held by bone pin.

Maupok was the Inuit’s “waiting method” used when hunting seals in the winter and early spring. The Inuit hunter would stand over the breathing hole in the ice and wait for a seal to appear. To know when a seal was present, the Inuit would place a feather over the hole, and when it moved it meant the seal was breathing. When a seal appeared, the hunter was ready to plunge the harpoon and make a catch. This can appear brutal; however, the Inuit depended on sea animals for subsistence. Hunting was a sacred ritual and when a seal was caught every part of it was utilised by the whole tribe. The Inuit refer to the seal as the “giver of life”, showing its importance to the tribe.