Inuktitut (Salluit) 

Two Hunters Carrying a Seal

  • 1950s
  • Soapstone
  • 9 1/8 × 8 × 7 in.

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Julia L. Whittier Fund; S.957.27

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Seals were once the most important food source to coastal Inuit, who still hunt and eat them today. They hunt seals year-round, by kayak in spring and summer and through the ice in winter. The Inuit waste no part of the animal. They eat seal meat cooked or raw. Historically, they used seal oil for cooking and in lamps for light and warmth. They used seal bones for tools, and sealskin for clothing.

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This sculpture represents the cooperation and community involved in traditional seal hunting. Straining from the heavy load, the two hunters work together to carry a harp seal, a hard but happy task at the end of a successful hunt.

The fullness of the men’s figures reveals the thickness of their clothing. It also suggests that they are good hunters. Their strong bodies seem healthy and well fed.

The balding figure is a senior, experienced hunter who may be passing on knowledge to the younger hunter.

Other details suggest the passage of time, and the transition from old to new. The hunters have taken off their hoods. The parkas appear to be cloth, and the boots are waterproof sealskin—clothing worn in warmer, wet spring weather. Women would have made these boots and the rest of the hunters’ clothing to protect them from the elements while they provided for their families.

Learn More

Arctic & Subarctic: Food