Collection online

Family Sewing and Building a Kayak

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Family Sewing and Building a Kayak
  • Description

    Soapstone sculpture depicting a family constructing a kayak. Six small bones - probably phalanges - are placed appropriately to suggest construction of the frame, while smaller carved bones are placed in sockets, drilled into the hands, and a single thread of sinew attached, to suggest sewing.

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Ethnic name

  • Date

    • 1969
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 12 centimetres
    • Length: 40.5 centimetres
    • Width: 27 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    This sculpture depicts an early 20th century event that took place on Hudson Strait. A family was stranded on ice, with little food. They were borne away from land by strong tidal currents. Fortuitously a large bearded seal appeared on the ice and was killed, providing food. The following day two more seals were harpooned providing together enough materials to build a kayak. The men split and bent bones to create a frame and paddles, while the women scraped the skin and extracted sinew to sew together the hides to be stretched across the frame. With the completion of the kayak the family paddled to the main ice sheet, still connected to the shore.


  • Bibliography

    • King 2006a bibliographic details
    • Lister 2002 p.127 bibliographic details
    • Von Finckenstein 1999 pp.92-93 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    1999 Apr-2000 Feb, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Iqqaipaa: Celebrating Inuit Art, 1948-1970

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number



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Object reference number: ENA80375

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