Baleen Basket Courtesy of Alaska State Museum in Juneau, AK

I was originally attracted to this artifact by the cute walrus handle. Beyond the cuteness factor, I was taken back by the craftsmanship of the basket. I wondered how many hours went into weaving such a beautiful and intricate piece of art. When I learned the basket was woven out of baleen, I thought, “How cool is that?” Having spent some time in Barrow and seeing how talk of whaling brightens everyone’s spirit, I think about many aspects of how this particular whale brought people together. Just as the baleen is woven together here to create a cohesive object, whaling brings everyone in the community together wherein rich bonds are formed from preparation for the hunt, the hunt itself, harvesting, serving, and artwork.

One thought on “Artifact”

  1. I’ve actually never heard of weaving with baleen. That’s amazing. Whale undoubtedly brings everyone together. I grew up seeing the women in my hometown spending many hours on trying to get weaving done. Many of those women simply gave away their creation made of grass to a friend or family member. I often wondered “why in the world would they not make money off that object that they spent countless hours on?” But it was one of those things that brought my community together.

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