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lynx carving (model)

Catalogue number: III-B-47

Name (English): lynx carving (model)

Name (French):

Name (Innu):

Culture: Barren Ground Innu

Institution: The Rooms, Provincial Museum Division

Place made: unknown

Maker: displayed as part of a collection of "music, games and toys 'made and presented to the Museum by Richard White between the years 1900 and 1918'"

Collector: Richard White

Date Collected: 1900 - 1918

Description: Model lynx, made from wood (rather cow-shaped) with hort pegs glued to it forming ears and a tail, and shaped legs glued into small holes bored into underside.

Innu narrative: I can only pick out two caribou, but I don't know the others. These are carvings. People carved wooden caribou too in the past. These are wooden carved caribou. The other one looks like a bear; it doesn't have antlers, but the other ones do. I don't know the rest. This one looks like an otter - Pinamen (Rich) Katshinak.

Yes, these are carved. This must be nitshiku (otter) B-131. They must have individual names for each one of these carvings and they each have shapes. When atikussat (calves) are carved, they are called atikussat (calves). If the matsheshu (fox) is carved, it would be called matsheshu (fox) carvings. And also mashku (black bear) if it is carved and that would be called mashku (black bear) carving - Uniam Katshinak

Other info: More research is required concerning these toys.

"During the first few days of his residence in the Naskapi winter camp, when his supply of trade goods was relatively intact, Strong obtained a large number of carved wooden animals. It is clear from his diaries...that after he had expressed a mild interest in obtaining such items, many of the men and boys began to carve them out of birchwood, using crooked knives...The most abundant of these carvings represent toy caribou. Strong...believed that the most interesting of these were 12 animals made out of flat strips of birchwood. For each animal, a narrow strip of wood was broken with the pieces still attached, so that they could be bent without coming apart to form the legs, head, neck and raised tail...Other toy animal carvings of birchwood include a crudely carved [bear, mink skunk, two martens, three otters, a mouse, and a pike]. There are three carvings of toy birds which include a very small shore bird...a rather oddly shaped owl...and a goose...Although Strong...believed that all the carvings he collected were primarily toys, his informants told him that these representations also had some magical significance with reference to good luck in hunting. To bring such luck, it was necessary for the carvings to be acquired by purchase, even for a very nominal amount" - VanStone (1985:37).

"Favourite pastimes for both children and grown-ups are making string figures and 'shooting' caribou made from wooden chips" - Henriksen (1973:26).

"The boys amuse themselves by shooting with blunt arrows at images of reindeer, bucks, does and fawns, cut out of flat boards stuck up in the snow" - Turner (1979[1894]:162).

"Indians was wonderful good for carvin' things out of wood, like canoes carved out of one solid piece of wood...beautiful! They'd make the paddles and the men to go in the canoes. And they'd have sleighs. They'd sell these to get twenty-five or thirty cents, enough to get a pack of 'baccy" - Jim Saunders (Them Days, August 1975:24).

References: Georg Henriksen. 1973. Hunters in the Barrens. St. John's: ISER. Lucien M. Turner. 1979[1894]. Indians and Eskimos in the Quebec-Labrador Peninsula. Quebec: Presses COMEDITEX. James W. VanStone. 1985. Material Culture of the Davis Inlet and Barren Ground Naskapi: the William Duncan Strong Collection. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History. Fieldiana, Anthropology New Series No.7. Jim Saunders. Them Days. August 1975.