Thursday, April 28, 2016

19th-20th Century Arctic Wooden Kayak Paddle

This blog is mainly devoted to single blade canoe paddles, but occasionally a double-bladed paddle peaks my interest. The Cobbs Auctioneers are having a Fine Art, Antiques & Sporting auction on April 30th, 2016 (commencing 10:00 AM EDT). Included in the catalog is a late 19th/early 20th C Inuit Kayak paddle with interesting blade designs and decorative carvings on the centre of the loom.

 Description: Inuit Carved Wood Kayak Paddle, double bladed with a central carved block to identify the owner, 76" long , identified with the Attu Islands area due the unusual shape of the paddle blades, good old finish, 19th/20thC 

The closeup of the central part showcases the subtle carving. The round grip shafts transition into a square central part marked with 4 cross marks. The provided description claims this is a mark to identify the owner.

The shaft tapers right before meeting the blade. The blade itself features a subtle indent about half way down the sides with angular tips. This design might make for an interesting single blade pattern which in theory would have a stiffer upper portion and a more flexible feel near the tip.

Not sure about the ethnographic identification about this being an Inuit paddle though. The description mentions that paddle shape is traced to the Attu Islands area which is traditionally Aleut territory, a similar but distinctive sub-Arctic culture from Canadian / Greenland Inuit peoples.


Mike Silvius said...

Harvey Golden might be the one who could tell you a bit more about it.

Unknown said...

I wonder if the subtle indent on the edges of the blades were meant for reinforcing pieces of bone that used to be attached to these paddles along the edges and the tips to protect the wood. Maybe this one was never finished. Something similar to what you see in this picture:

Murat said...

Thanks for the feedback and links. RJ, your point about the indents likely meant for reinforcing bone edging makes perfect sense.

Timothy W. Pothier said...

In 19th century, We can see the various kinds of kayak paddles. In your article photos, we also see the some arts on the body of the kayak paddle. It seems that in 19th century, people like kayaking very much, they give art on it. Still now Kayaking is a art. :)

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