Nov 22, 2011

Alaskan eskimo bows

As I have been busy with work and research I have been unable to update my blog for a while. I have been involved in the intensive study of a small collection of native artifacts from Alaska. This collection is previously unknown and the catalog as well as the result of the study will appear in print at some time, hopefully as early as in 2012.

This collection also includes a number of bows and arrows. I have been able to carefully study these artefacts in great detail and as such learned some new and interesting facts about native Alaskan bowyery. This study also includes making a few working replicas of the bows and arrows as it is also very important to learn how exactly these bows were made and used.

There have been a number of studies made on Eskimo bowyery, some scholars have even made actual replicas of eskimo-bows. Very few, if any of these have used the same inferior softwoods as the original eskimo bowyers, often substituting Black Spruce, Douglas Fir and Tamarack with less tempered woods such as Ash and Yew. Although Yew has been used for bow-manufacture in southwestern Alaska, many bows have also been made using more inferior species of wood.

Original and replica of a Southwest-Alaskan bow.
The challenge is to make working replicas of these Alaskan bows using the same inferior bow woods as the original bowyers used and in the process perhaps rediscover the craft and skills of the Alaskan bowyers.

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