Length: 19.500 cm
AOA Ethno Q79.Am81
Africa, Oceania, Americas
Scraper made of glass
Aónikenk, 19th century
Tool for preparing animal skins
Scrapers such as this were used by the Aónikenk people of southern Patagonia to prepare the skins of animals such as the guanaco (Lama guanicoe, a type of camelid). The skins were mostly used for clothing. This scraper is similar in form to a much older tradition, in which stone such as flint was worked into a sharp edge and then bound to a wooden handle using a leather strap. In the later example illustrated here glass has been used instead of stone. The glass would have come from a bottle brought from Europe by traders or settlers.
The guanaco was intensively exploited by Aónikenk hunters in great numbers towards the end of the nineteenth century, fuelled by a demand for the hides for use as cloaks. J.B. Hatcher, an American ethnographer, describes such a hunt in the 1890s:
'A permanent camp is established in some favoured spot and a relentless war is at once begun upon the young guanaco in the vicinity and kept up until they have all been killed or reach an age which renders their hides unserviceable to the Tehuelches [Aónikenk]. The work of killing and skinning is done by the men, while the drying, dressing and further care of the hides falls to the women ...'.
C. McEwan, L.A. Borrero and A Prieto (eds), Patagonia: natural history, pr (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)
J.B. Hatcher, Reports of the Princeton Unive (Princeton and Stuttgart, 1903)