The Alaska State Museum was filled with an amazing amount of items. It was tough to choose just one, but I ended up choosing the Tlaabaas (skin scraper) from an Athabascan village of Old Rampart. This was a gift from Margaret Cadzow. When I first saw this scraper, I thought it was an ulu (cutting knife) until I saw the name of it. This is the first time I have ever heard about skin scrapers in the Alaska Native culture. I tried to search more information about it online but I have had no success thus far for the Athabascan culture. However, I was able to find a summary of scrapers for the Inupiaq culture from alaskanartifacts.com, and the way they use scrapers there could be for a total different reason than what the Athabascans use it for.
According to alaskanartifacts.com, the skin scrapers were necessary to prepare furs and skins clothing, boats, dog-harnesses, etc. The handles were made of ivory, bone, or driftwood carved to the hand while the blades were mostly made of chert. Scrapers were primarily used to remove bits of flesh, fat, and water from the skin. The person can scrape the smaller skins of hares, waterfowl, and muskrats on their thighs. Larger skins were generally placed on the ground or snow.
One thought on “Skin Scraper-Athabascan”
It is interesting to look at the similarity in tools and functions of items from various cultures. It really speaks to cultural exchange and “need” being the mother of all creation.