Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The bow carried, strung ready for use, in a sheath of tanned sealskin slung across the shoulders in such a way that it could easily be drawn out under the right arm. Nowadays they carry their rifles in similar sheaths. Attached to the sheath was a quiver, also of sealskin, in which they used to keep an assortment of arrows, some of each kind, according to the hunter's needs. All the Eskimos draw the bow like European archers-that is, by hooking the force and middle fingers round the bowstring, with the arrow clasped between the fingers, instead of pinching the butt of the arrow between the finger and thumb, like most indians.  

Murdoch, J.(Sep 1897). Eskimo bows and arrows. Popular Science, Vol. 51, No. 44

Monday, November 29, 2010

Eskimo Sinew

The Eskimos also made sinew-backed bows but in their frigid and damp climate it was impossible to do anything with glue, so their sinew was applied in the form of twisted cordage tied on the back of the bow. The tension in the backing material was increased by twisting after it was bound to the back of the bow.

Baugh,D.(1994). A note on indian bow making or the secrets of sinew revealed. The Bulletin of Primitive Technology, Vol. 1

Monday, November 22, 2010

They used that for hunting caribou. They pile these rocks and make them in the shape of a man... They hide behind those, whenever they use this bow.
—Oscar Koutchak, 2001

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Modern day bows have taken qualities from past technology and developed many advanced addittions to increase bow performance. Today we still use many of the woods or skins that were used centuries ago to construct the Inupiaq bows.


The “pisiksi” comes from the farthest north aboriginal people in the world, the Inupiaqs. They live throughout northern Alaska and run into parts of Russia, Canada, and Greenland. Inupiaqs main source of food was meat because most plants could not grow in those climates. They became avid hunters and fisherman, their staple diet consisted of; whales, walruses, seals, fish, caribou, moose, and polar bear. Survival depended on the animals, so they would fallow the caribou herds by foot or by dog sled and live off their meat and hides for shelter and clothing. The Inupiaq culture and values were strongly based on family and well living. The bow showed both their dedication and skill to make a tool they can survive off of in battle and for food.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Culture: Iñupiaq
Region: Northwest Alaska
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length 93.5cm

The Making of The "Pisiksi"

Wood is carved down to the proper size and perfect shape. Then was reinforced by whale or caribou sinew for extra spring and power. Different plants were used at first to create the string for the bow, but these plants were harder to harvest and definitely not very strong, so by trial and error, the Natives perfected the bow by discovering that sinew worked much better and was also easier to obtain. The sinew looks tattered and worn after all the years, yet still very strong. Also the wood seems to have a glossy finish, but this could be from hand oil and use over time.