Friday, April 24, 2015

Declawing a Thule Harpoon Head

I spent a good chunk of the day breaking the Ikaahuk artifact
reproductions.  For the most part they broke the way they were supposed to, so it's all good.  The piece that needed the most damage done to it was the Thule barbed harpoon head from Nelson River.  The original artifact has only one remaining barb, but you can see places on the body of the harpoon head where three other barbs broke off, leaving stumps of various sizes.  The plan from the beginning was to make a fully intact version of the harpoon head, photograph it, and then break it to match the original artifact.  Below are some of the last photos of the complete harpoon head before I cracked the three barbs off (right).

The slots cut on either side of the open socket were there so that some sort of lashing (ie. sinew, leather, baleen) could be used to close the socket so that it could fit onto a harpoon foreshaft. 
The original artifact and this reproduction were both oriented in the antler tine so that the hard outer surface of the antler was on the dorsal surface.  The softer, more porous interior of the antler meant it was easier to carve out the open socket at the base. 
The dorsal surface of the harpoon head.  The small hole in the centre was for the harpoon line.  The larger hole below that is part of the gouged channel for the lashing that closes off the open socket.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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