Miniature replicas of tools and equipment used by Inuit in daily
life have their cultural origin in grave goods. "Among the various
tribes it was also customary to deposit with the dead small models of
useful objects such as lamps, harpoons, knives, etc. whose 'spirits'
could then be utilized in the afterworld by the deceased"*
Leden also refers to this custom: "It is the Eskimo custom to
bury the dead with all their belongings. What is not deposited in the
grave is left leaning against the burial mound. It is a grievous sin
to appropriate any of such articles or even to make use of them
Eventually, similar replicas were made for barter with visitors to
the North. These little men in kayaks, scenes of dogsleds, and miniature
umiaks, were carved in anticipation of the next visiting ship, or the
arrival of an RCMP patrol, a doctor or a missionary. It appears that
some models were specifically commissioned by an ethnographer for
demonstration and research. If it was impossible to ship an authentic
large boat home, an option would be an exact replica which demonstrated
the details of construction. Similarly, ethnographers could commission
objects no longer in daily use for study purposes.
1946 The material Culture of the Copper Eskimo. Report of
the Canadian Arctic Expedition 19131918, vol. XVI.
1990 Across the Keewatin Icefields. Winnipeg: Watson and
Wyer Publishing Ltd.
Model Umiak with Figures and Accessories, 19081914
Wood, sealskin, wire, metal, cotton, string, duffel
Boat: 14 x 58 x 27 cm
CMC IV-B-1134, D2007-05008
Collected by Mrs. Marjorie Wakefield, wife of Dr. A. W. Wakefield, while
stationed at Grenfell missions in Labrador
The umiak (women's boat) is accompanied by two figures,
together with wooden replicas of a walrus, a seal and a rifle. It is
easy to imagine that the Wakefields commissioned this artifact so they
could bring it home to England as a souvenir of their years in
Model of Stove, n. d.
Baffin Island ?, Nunavut
7.5 x 6 cm
The custom of making models of objects in daily use eventually
extended to items of Euro-Canadian origin. This paraffin stove is
reminiscent in style to the objects in Kidston's and Jean Cameron's
collections. It is safe to assume that it originates from Baffin Island,
possibly Pond Inlet or Lake Harbour.
Out There is Somewhere: The Arctic in Pictures. Organized by
the Art Gallery of Windsor. Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario,
March 23 May 26, 2002; Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta,
September 6 November 2, 2002.
1988 "The Historic Period in Canadian Eskimo Art."
Inuit Art: An Anthology. Winnipeg: Watson & Dyer, ill.