Object photography

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Object description

  • Inuit artist
  • Bow drill, 19th century
  • Ivory
  • Northern Alaska, United States
  • L: 13 in, W: 1/2 in (L: 33.0 cm, W: 1.3 cm)
  • Gift of Mr. Alexander O. Vietor, 1980
  • E67117
  • Illustrations of dangerous activities of hunting and warfare
  • Used for drilling hard materials and starting fires

Etched with scenes of daily life, bow drills were invaluable tools of survival in the Arctic. A leather cord attached to the bow would have been wrapped around a drill shaft, and the motion of moving the bow back and forth would have rotated the drill, creating the friction necessary to start fires and carve bone, ivory, or wood.