Hunting visor, elqiaq (“bentwood visor”)

April 7, 2010
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Una-w’ yaqulgem cugkekii. Naruyat waten ayuqut cuggait looks like. (This is a bird’s beak. It looks like the beaks of seagulls.) - John Phillip, Sr., 2002

Hunters of the Bering Sea coast wore wooden visors to protect their eyes from glare and to spiritually assist with the hunt; Chuna McIntyre said that the visors were “beautified to attract and honor the animals.” To make a visor a craftsman used hot water to soften the wood, then bent it around and stitched the ends together with sinew, baleen, or split root. Animal carvings were added as hunting charms, such as the walrus and seagull heads on this visor. Feathers may have been added to assist the transformation of hunters into birds, as described in oral tradition.

Image courtesy of the National Museum of Natural History