honud like a »rear brush or beson,. The ,,ole was banded alon-. its
entire length with red and white |,aint. and fastened on two sides of it
near the middle, were two ,,airs of reindeerskin stri,)s whieh hnn- down
two or three feet. On th.e left sid,. of the room. hun<r liori/.,ntally mid-
way between the lloor and ceiling, was a large sheaf of seal and walrus
spears, their heads j.artly in one direction and i>artlv in another.
Attached to these, a bunch being fastened to each spear, were sev-
eral hundred seal and walrus bladders, all ot which were s|>otted
and blotched with grayish-white jiaint: each spear had tied to it the '
bladders belonging to its owner. Hanging about the room, singly or
in bunches, were a number of reindeer bladders, but none of thesi^were
hung with those of the seal and the walrus. On the side of the room
opposite the si)ears and bladders, at an ei]ual height from the lloor.
hung a large bundle of wild-parsnip stalks. All about the roimi and
on the sides were arranged various sjx'ars used in hunting seals and
walrus. Under the wild ])arsnip stalks and beneath the spears and
bladders was a ]iile of thirty or forty wooden hunting helmets of various
shapes, some of which wore ornamented with carved ivory images,
while others were not thus ornamented: they were ])ainted white or
brown, with white blotches, and on many of them were depicted female
phallic symbols. Back of the eutri.nce hide in the floor stood a large
When 1 entered the room one of my dogs followed, and immediately
a man seized a drum and began beating it to exorcise the evil inlluence
of the dog's })resence until it was hastily expelled. 1 looked about the
room and went over to the bladders and felt one to learn the nature of
the paint with which it was spotted: my movements seemed t() startle
the men very much and all raised a loud outcry. I afterward heard
the same cry raised if any loud noise was accidentall.\' made near these
objects. When our (tamping outlit was brought in from the sledges,
two men took drums, and as the clothing and goods of the traders who
were with me were brought in, the drunis were beaten softly and a song
was sung in a low, huinniing tone, but when our guns and some steel
traps were brought in, with other articles of iron, the drums were beaten
loudly and the sougs raised in iJi-oportion. This was done that the
shades of the animals present in the bladders might not be frightened.
Early in the evening the boys of the village gathered outside the
kashim aiul raised a great outcry. An hour later the hunting helmets
were ranged around the kashim, forming a circle on the lloor inclosing
the walrus skull and the stake. Very soon attei' this a bundle of straw,
such as is used for pads in boot soles, was thrown down from the hole
in t!ie roof; a man took this, and hohling it at arm's length over his
head while be marched arouml the ring of helmets, deposited it on the
384 THE KSKIMu AH'iIT HK.KINO STUAIT (mi. »x».l»
ll«x»r lit tin- I'liiM' of tlic sfaki'. Tlif « alnin skull nas then placod ilo8«
to tin* li"l«' ill till' tliMir with a foliiftl ntniw mat bofiire it; two >iiiall
MiNxIcii biii'ketH of wati-r wi-if liroii(;ht in and |>lafi-<l in front of the
hole to HyiiilMiii/c till- —A. tlu> holf thii^ ii-pn'sentint,' a seal hole lead
liiK' int«i till- SIM tliroii;;h the iie. After tliiri no one was periuittetl to
h-ave the room until the fveniii;; lerenionieH were <ompl<te«l. as the exit
lioli- was the only ineaiis of I'uress and was snp|K>sed lo l»e used during
tins time liy the shades of the animals, and eonseipiently was tubooe*!.
iMirint; this time it liecaine. li^'iiratively, the enlranre t4i the sea.
The men and the Itoys now put on their helmets, and the one who had
fir-<t taken the ura^s from liesideearh hunter u;;ain took it up and, after
wa\in;: it over his head, seatteit-d it in the ring just inside the jdaee
where the eircle of helmets had been; this w;»s s;iid to represent lliO
drilt weeds lyiiifX on the seashore.
A Noun;; man now seated himself under the sjiear." and bladders and
aiiipther under the larye bunilie of wild i>arsnip stalks, their feet resting
on the riii;; of gras.s. The ilruiiis heg.in to beat loudly, and the y<iuiig
men aiound the room imitated the notes <if the eider duek. In a slmit
timi' the men and the boys ranged themselves around the HK)m jn»t
oiitsiile the eircle ii ade by the grass, the women and the girl.s being
behind them and next to the wall. The headman ehitnted a few words
of a song in time to the be.iting of the iliiims, which was taken up us
a retrain by every <ine, including men, women, au»I boy.s. each p;irly
repeating it in alternation. I>uiing this song one of the young men
iinitateil in pantoiniine the motions of a loon and another those of a
niiirre. These men remained seated n|ion the floor, swaying their heads
and biMlies about in the most Hingular postures, like those of a bird
di\ ing and swimming under w;iter, or on the snrf;ice. pecking with their
beaks, etc, alter which they made :i lla])|iing motion with their hands as
il rising and flying away, imitating :it the same time the cries of the
birds they were representing.
.V short interval followed, during which a single drnmmer and singer
Continued the music; then various others id° the dancers began similar
bird movements, and all began drumming and singing as before. The
new dancers sIihxI about the ring of grass, and one made the motions
of » beaver at work cutting bushes and building a dam. Another
gestured his encounter with the enemy and his eseajie from a hostile
Suddenly luie of the singers sprang to his feet and, sei/ing the two
Wooden buckets of water, vanished through the hole in the floor. At
the same moment the men iMid boys ran out to the large buniUeof wild-
parsnip stalks and •■ach put his hunting helmet upon it as ipuckly iis
possible. Nearly every one left tin- kashiin at this time, and .soon a man
eaiiie in who had been stripped to the waist at the outer door. He bore
a wooden dish ot" food, which lii< held high over his head, and circled
once around the r^iom as an oil'ering to the slia<les and liiinilKit in the
■ ""■' lil.ADDKR FESTIVAL ^^f^
skylaud; then 1,0 stamped on ti.e lloor tw., or tl.roe ,1,,,.. an.l tlu- ...o
pie came in, bring my food, of w!.i,.l, he part.-ok '
Xo further ceremonies were eondn.ted until the middle of the ni^l.t
when he lights were suddenly extinguished and ti,e shama, tt r '
frou, the root, a long series of unintelligihle words ending wit la 1„ j
shout.Mlowed by his entry into the kashin,. Then tl.: li.vl,t we e
renewed and a bucket of water was placed on the iloor under^he hhul
ders. A man and three boys then stripped, and one of the bo^•s was
Idaced astride the man's back, where he hung by his arn.s and k-s
twined about the man-s bo.ly; the other two boys stoo.l in a sto.„.in:.
posture m front of the bucket of water, and the man ..arrving the boy
oil his back stood beside them.
This mail dipped up some water with his hand and tossed it un
toward the bladders, so that it fell back in a shower upon the two
boys and himself. After doing this for some time he carried the bucket
around the room, (Continually llirting the water up toward the roof with
one hand as a libation to tlie tnu;ihdf of the air. The 1)oys then knelt
iu the middle of the room with bowed heads and rounded shoulders
while the cold water in the buckets was dashed over them. Shortly
after a growling noise was heard under the lloor. and a man with the
hood of his fur coat over his head and a kaiak paddle in his hand
entered and stood in one corner of the room. He was soon followed
by another, also carrying a paddle, who went to the corner occuiiied
by the first comer, while the latter went ou to the nest corner; then
a third man came in, and the preceding ones advanced each to the
uext corner, aud the first comer was occupied by the third man; a
fourth entered, and the changing of places was coutiuued so that each
of the four comers was occupied. These men then marched around
the room several times, lifting the bladders with their paddle blades as
they passed and knocking dowu the spears that were stuck np on the
walls of the room.
After this thej' filed out, and the pco|)le gathered up the fallen s])ears,
removing their points. The bunch of \vildi)arsnip stalks was fast-
ened to the stake at the back of the room, and the bundle of spears, to
which the bladders were hung, was lowered to a level with the sleeping
benches, betweeu three and four feet above the tloor. When the four
men went outside they planted their i)addles, blade downward, in front
of the kashiin, forming a row across the entrance. To the top of each the
owuer tastened his wooden hunting helmet, which had been worn under
his fur hood when iu the kashiin. To each helmet was fastened a hunch
of straw or grass similar to that used to form the ring on the floor, rep-
resenting seaweed. To the heads of this grass were fastened a few
snuill, downy gull feathers.
Early on the following morning the old men told us that we must not
stamp our feet iu the kashiin during that day, for fear of alarming the
shades of the animals that were expected to be present. The bunch of
IS ETII I'o
38ij Tin; k-kimo Aitoir ukkinu stkait itm *.-(». »«
wil(l'|iiirMni|>HtalkK \ra.s li(;lit<-<l ami whvimI llainiii^'. tnward tin- cardinal
|H>iiitA. aflcr wliicli till- rliaiie*! stiiiiips wiTo laid ut tin* foot of the
Htaki-. AlMiut iKMiii t»o men took the small ImiikUl'.s of ]>arsni]> stalks
anil li;:lit<-d tlit-m. waving; tlit- llnmc abont tlic liladders. and after
catiyiiij; tluin around tin- room went out tlirouKli the |)»s8a);oway
to I he outer iltMir. The i liarred stalks w«'re then brought back and
laid nil the IliHir under the lar^f bundle of stalks on the stake. Notli-
in;: more was done until Just after noon, when a bat; made of sealskin
wa-^ brou;:lit in. The men then took their urine buckets and went out-
ride, carrying; the ha;;, and ea<h poured urine from his bucket njion it,
slioutiii;.' louilly siune unintclll;jilde words, alter which all <;ime back
into the rtjom ami siri|>pe4l themselves to the waist.
."siMiii aflt-rwanl the cover was removed front the smoke hole in the
root, arid tin- sealskin ba;;. haviu); attached to it llie four iielmets worn
by the men who had eiil<Med with the ])addles on the previous evenin;:,
was lowered throu;.'h the hole by a rawliide line ami was hunp on the
stake at the head of the room; then the owners went to the hehnet.s
and remo\c4l the ;;rass that was fastened to them, and each tied a few
blades to his bunch of bladders. The helmets were then taken down
ami placed on the lloor at tin- toot of the .stake.
rp to this timetlie seal ba;; had been empty, but it was now taken
down and intlated and hun;;up by the nose on the middle of the sheaf
of spears to whicii the bladders were fastcncfl; to each hind-llipper
was tied a luimary wiii;r-featlier of the I'acilic ;;laucoiis ;.'uli. There
was (hen an interval without ceremonies lastin;; until eveninj;.
I'.arly ill the eveniu;; everyom- ;,'athered in the kashini and the wjd-
riis skull and the grass mats were jilaced in the same position as on the
previous evening. Sudtlenly a linrniiig stalk of wild parsnip was
waved in the entrance hole from below, a man's heatl appeared, and a
dish of f(H)d was jihu-ed on the lloor and slid across to the corner of the
room between tlie bladders and the stake: the man entered and went
over to the bladders, where he stopped. Anotiier man then went throii;;li
the same performance, waving the burning stalk and sliding in a disii
of foiMl, etc, succe«-iled by two others, until the four men were ran;:etl
side by sitle in front of the bladders. They were the same who had
come ill with the paddles during a former «-ereiiiony.
The llrst lighted a bunch ol' parsnip stalks, to whicli was tied ail the
points taken from the (alien si)ears on the jtreceding night. Waving
this about a few times in the corner where his wooden dish had been
slid, he raised it over his head and turned once slowly around. Alt<r
this the bla/ing mass was waved over the four wooden dishes which
had been slid into the corner, over the two empty buckets which had
contained the water symboli/ing the sea during the last night's ceie-
monies, and alioiit tiie bladders and liie I'liarred stumps were tlii-ii laid
at the foot of the stake.
lie went iii\t to the tour wooden dishes and maile motions as though
""■""'^ HLADKKU l-KSTIVAL 3^.-
scoopingupfoodfron, tl..„, in boll, hands and .-astin,- ir toward the
bladders: at the sa.no ti.ne a man sittin, in an obsen,; nnner "n !
vgorotas pull to the hne passing ti-on, his hand .hn.UKh a h,„,.~i hi
root and down to the bh.dde.s. wlueh caused then ,0 os^.ilh.te vio ! , •
ami was supposed to indicate the acce,.tance of the ollerino- bv the
shades of the animals in the bladders. '
The other three n.en repeate.l these'rites in every detail, after whi.d.
he drtuns were beaten and the fonr n,en execnted a curions dance in
trout of the bladders, which were swung about as before, to in.licate
the.r pleasure The dance was beo-un by a pcckinJ,^ Jerking n.otion
from side to side and forward, while the dancers niove.l sh.wlv alon^
111 front of the bladders. Then tlie .lance was chan-ed to an obli.uie
gallopino- movement, after which the arms were tossed up and down
giving the body a juniiHTig motion; then lirst one leg. then the other"
was thrown up and a hop made on the other, followed by .|ui.]c hops
sidewiseaud longjumi)s lbrward,all keeping perfc.-t time to the drums.
This dauce was said to be au inutatiou of the movements of seals and
Throughout the performance a half-grown girl stood beside the four
dancers swaying her body back and forth with an undulating motion.
The four men repeated their series of motions or dances several limes
in succession, uutil they werecom])ellcd to stop from exhaustion: when
they ceased their jdaces were taken by lour others, who repeated the
dance, and they in turn by four others, and these again by two othei'
sets, another girl being substituted with each set of dampers.
One of the men told me that each of these sets of dancers coini)rised
only men of the same ''kin," by which, so far as I conld ascertain, he
referred to the gens, since people of the same gens arc considered by
them as being of the same kin. In this case it evidently imjilied that
four geutes were represented in the festival, as indicated by the totem
marks on the four paddles standing before the door.
When the dance ended, the four dishes of food were carried around
the hole in the floor, after which their contents were distributed and
eaten. In a short time two straw mats were spread on the llor)r before
the entrance hole, and two men stripiied to the waist sat upon them,
facing the hole. In the pit under the Hoor w^ere all the hunters who
owned the bladders hanging in the kashim, and each had in his hand a
small wisp of straw or grass like that already described, which were
handed, in .succes-sion, to the men on the mats, the one handing them
up showing nothing but his hand and arm. As each wisp was passed
up, the man who received it called out the name of its owner, who
resi)onded by making a- short speech, which created great laughter
among the i)eoi)le seated around the kashim.
Among other things, the men stated in the speeches that the grass
they were handing up served as beds for the /«H((.v of the bladders. AVlieii
each speech was ended, the man who had taken the grass hau.led it
;;>•< TIIK ESKIMO AltOlT IJKUlNXi STRAIT ^rti. asm. U
to tlif mail <>|i|K>^ito oil tin- otlitT iiiut, wlio broke it into lialvcH and bound
tilt' t»o«'iiils to;;i-tliiT. TliiMi taking; up tlie Htiiiupof the iiarsiiip stalk
toitli, tuuiiicli till- siMiiriMjirits were atta<liP«l. lie lighte<l it and passed
th« liu'litotl fiitl over and around the ;:i!ims, at the same time sayiiifj in
a loiid voiif, ■• When ilu-y sit down they are sleepy and fall down;"
he then fell, ami, rollinj; over, laid the grass on the llo<ir. This was
repeated lor every hunter, and syniboli/.iil the killinf; of the seals with
tin- spear|Hiiiiis which were attached to the torch. In the middle of the
night tht^ lamps were again extinguished ami the shaman went on the
iijof, where another sjieecli was matle to the bladders through the smoke
hole. This s|>ee<li was emleil by a blowing noise, such as is made by
soals and walrus when they come to the surface to breathe. Afterward
the shaman made a sipieaking and grunt iiig noise, such as a i)Uii seal
utters when trying to find its mother.
At 1 oelock ill the moriiing everyone arose, and the dances given by
sets of lour men on the i»revious night were rejieated in all their details,
except that fewer motions were made with the arms and the upper part
of the body. The woman dancing with each .set tiMik the unligbted
bunch i>!' parsnip stalks and passed it about the dishes of fooil before
they were olVered to the iiiuax of the bladders.
When the dance and the food olVerings had been completeil, thechiet
shaman — the one liist mentioned as leading the ceremonies and who
directed all the ob.servanees — lighted a i»arsiiii» stalk torch and jia.ssed
it about the room, holding it close to tlie lltMir. lie then circled with it
about each of the dancers, who removed their fur coats and the torch
was pa.ssed about their bodies and inside and about their fur coats.
This was said to be done to jKirify the room and the dancers and to
remove any evil influence that might bring sickness or bad luck to the
hiinter.s. Four of the men then sat beneath the bladders for a short
time, after which they arose and seated them.selves close together on
the sleeping bench beliiml the spears ami bladders.
A w(uiiaii then brought in a large wooden bucket of food, and, after
passing a lighted parsnip stalk torch about it. made an ofl'eiing to the
blaildeis. .■^he then stood in front of the bladders, facing the middle
of the loom, and so near that the bladders brushed her back when
they were swung back and forth a moment later by a man hauling on
a cord. The shaman then took a boy about twelve years of age, who
was stiipped to the waist, and laid him across the eiitram-e hole in the
lloor, at the same time kneeling over him and making a low noise like
the note of the niiirre. Meiieath the lloor a man started a song, in
which the people in the kashim Joined.
Immediately after the song was liiiisheil the hunters rushed to the
bladder> and each took those he owned and fastened tliein about the
hea<ls of two or three of the pointless spearshafts. A song was then
sung by the ))eople and the bladders were laid with the spearshaftsoii the
lloor by the eiitiance liole, while all of the other spears, the large stake.
"^■■""■"J BLADr.KU FESTI\-AL ggf)
and the other things ^^•,.re taken down from the walls, and all tiu- ^vild.
parsnip stalks that remained in the room were tied in a lar-e bundle
which was fastene.1 to the top of the stake like a huse brooin or l.rush'
\^ hen this was done, the shaman went on the roof and. removii... the
cover, put in his head repeate.Uy at eaeh eorner of th,. sniokeliole
while he made a .yrnnting noise like a youno- ,,„,,,,,.. Another kneli
over the entrance hole in IVont ..f the kashin. and repeated the noise
It was now 3 oclock, and the spearshafts to whi.^h the bladders were
fastened were passed np to the shainaii throuoh the smoke hole. Their
owners immediately went out throu.uh the passageway, and each obtain-
ing the shafts bearing his bladders ran rajwdly to the foot of the km.ll
on which the village is located. When the hunters were all outside.
the top of the great brush of ])arsiiii) stalks on the stake was lighted!
making a huge torch, which was passed up through the smoke' hole"
The chief shaman took it on his shoulder and ran across the snow-
covered plain as ra|)idly as possible, followed by all the men, holding
the bladders aloft on the ends of the spearshafts. ISehind the hunlers
ran the women, children, and old men. howling, screaming, and making
a great uproar.
The night was cold, calm, and very dark, so that the lurid llame of
the torch arose ten or twelve feet, casting a red glare over the snow-
covered plain and lighting up the swarm of fantastic, fnr-eovered
figures that went streaming along in wild excitement. Nearly a (juar-
ter of a mile from the village the crowd reached the borders of a small
pond, where a square hole had beeu made through the ice, close by
which the shaman thrust the lower end of the stake into the snow so
that the torch stood erect. The hunters then stood by the hole in the
ice and, using a detached spearpoint. ripped open the bladders. Then
taking the collai)sed bladders in one hand and a kaiak ])addle in the
other, they inarched several times around the hole, each time dipi)ing
the point of the paddle blade and the collapsed bladders in the water
at the corners of the hole. They then put the bladders one at a time
into the water under the ice, where they remained. This ended the
ceremony and all returned to the village.
Soon after daybreak four men with their ])addles came in and, as
before, moved from corner to corner in succession until all were in,
when they inarched around the room, making no motions with ilieir
paddles, and then went out. When the lirst of these men came in lie
was greeted by a great shout from everyone in the room, and the other
three were greeted successively on their entrance by a loud groaning
noise. An hour later the old men told everyone to be quiet, and two
men went to the entrance hole in the tloor where they sat down side
by side. One of them held a bundle of small sticks, each stick repre-
senting a hunter, and as he i)asscd these singly from haml to hand the
other man rolled over on the lioor as he liad done with the grass wisps
ou the previous evening.
3;m» the F-SKIMm Altoir KEIMNG STHMT [btii.*%>. w
iMiriiii: this tliiy iill work was prohiliitid iii tin- villagf. Kveii the
fur trail«T ami uiysflf wero ri-'|ii<-''ti'«l to do uoiie. it Ikmiik explaiiirtl
tliat to work 1)11 this tlay wuiihl i-uiisf Koiiie of the |>L'«j|ile to die, since*
it wonltl olliiiil the hha«lt>M of tlio animals. We wen- also a.skeil to be
very « an liil not to make any noi-i- in the ka>hini. Kvery time any
Hn<lit<-n noiHt* whs aeeidentally made all of the men preseut united in a
ehoruM of enes, imitatiiif; the notes of the eiiler <luck, so that the
HhadfS of seals and other animals whose bladders had iM-eii suspended
ill till- riHiiii should a(tril)iit<- the noisr to th<»e birds rsither than to the
IK-ople. In the afteriKJon a dance was perlbrmed by these men, in time
todrniiiM and sin;;int;. It eonsisted of leaping; and Juinpini; nioveinenls
like thoH«> already ilrseribed in the danee to the bladders. That even-
iiif; the head shaman, stripped to the skin, sat on the straw mat iu front
of the evil hole in tin- lliHir with a fur homl over his head. .Some men
then bound his Inuitls and fn-i with rawhide <-ords and a loii>: <'ord was
fastened to his iieek by a slippiiij; noose.
Two assistants then earried him down throu;;h the hole and placed
him on a ;,'rass mat in the fire pit. Another eoril was then passed
around his hands and knees and bound at the back of his iieek, beiii(;
drawn so tij^ht that his face was bron^rht down iietwi-m his knees, and
in this position he wa^j made fast. One of the assistants went out to
^'uard the outer d«M>r of the i>as.sa','eway. while the other eame back
into the riMiin and, after drawiii<; tight the line fastened t4i the shaman's
neck, spread a grass mat over the hole in the lloor. This line lielil by
the assistant now began to run out. then slacken up, then run out again,
as though something was traiveling away with it below the tloor.
This was continued for some time; meanwhile the dnimining and
singing of the men in the kasliim were kept up. Finally a kind of
grr)aning was heard from the shaman and several men ran to the hole
with th<- light, and found him bound as he hati been at lirst, but about
live feet from the point where he had been jdaced.
I>r.ring the performance theeord fastened to the shaman's neck, one
end of which was held by his assistant in the kashiin, had i)een pulled