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Catalog Data

Donor Name:
Greenland Home Rule Government  Search this
Length - Kayak:
ca. 570 cm
Height - Kayak, Height At Cockpit:
ca. 27 cm
Maximum Width - Kayak, Width At Cockpit:
ca. 54 cm
Length - Paddle:
223 cm
Maximum Width - Paddle:
8 cm
Eskimo, Inuit, West Greenland Inuit / Kalaallit  Search this
Object Type:
Kayak / Kayak Paddle
Sisimiut / Washington, D.C., West Greenland, Greenland / United States, North America
Accession Date:
3 Aug 2007
Collection Date:
Kayak. Wooden ribs / frame with black nylon (?) fabric stretched over the frame, stitched together along the midline of the deck, and painted with a clear waterproof coating. Narrow, shallow hull. Has a pair of brown leather aft deck lines (straps across the stern) and 5 fore deck lines (across the bow), plus another short strap/handle at each end. Bone end knobs, shaped like a whale tail at the stern, and a seal head/body at the bow. Cotton canvas spray skirt attached to the rim of the cockpit. Double bladed paddle with narrow blades, made from solid light-colored wood, with a strip of darker wood at both ends. Paddle is coated with varnish?
Hand-made by master kayaker and kayak-builder Maligiaq Johnsen Padilla, at the "Festival of Greenland" at NMNH, May 20-22, 2005. William Fitzhugh, Director of the Arctic Studies Program, says: "Although not a traditional Greenland kayak of the old days, which would have been made with a sealskin rather than a canvas cover, and having whale flukes as embellishments at the bow and stern, this kayak is actually part of a continuing living tradition of kayak building and use in West Greenland that has had an unbroken history. Canvas kayaks began to be constructed in the early 20th century and have been used extensively for seal hunting, especially in northern parts of West Greenland and in East Greenland. Shapes and styles of boat forms have also been evolving as new materials and techniques were implemented. Today, kayaking is a prestigious sport as well as a hunting vehicle, and as the subsistence need for kayaks has declined, more and more kayaks are being built for recreation and sporting events."
This kayak was a model for a 3/4 size replica that was made for exhibit in 2013. The replica was produced by NMNH Office of Exhibits staff members Stoy Popovich, Jon Zastrow, and Natalie Gallelli. It was placed on exhibit in the NMNH's Sant Ocean Hall in the fall of 2013, complete with a kayaker mannequin dressed in a traditional white anoraq (parka) supplied by Maligiaq Padilla, and hunting gloves supplied by the family of the late Melvin Seppilu from the town of Savoonga (probably made by his sister-in-law, Christina Alowa (Sunqaanga)
Record Last Modified:
16 Feb 2020
Specimen Count:
Ethnology  Search this
Accession Number:
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Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.