Page:Eskimo Life.djvu/174

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
132
ESKIMO LIFE

On the whole, the Greenland women make great use of their teeth, now to stretch the skins, now to hold them while they are being scraped, and again for the actual scraping. It is rather startling to us Europeans to see them take up a skin out of the tub of fetid liquor in which it has been steeping, and straightway fix their teeth in it and begin to dress it. The mouth, in fact, is a third hand to them; and therefore the front teeth of old Eskimo women are often worn away to the merest stumps.

The sinews of seals, whales, and reindeer are used as thread in making garments out of skins. The sinews are simply dried. For sewing kaiak-jackets, kaiak-gioves, and sometimes for kamiks, the gullet of the saddleback seal, the ringed seal, the bladder-nose seal, the small mottled seal, and the cormorant is also used. The outer membranes of the gullet are cut away while it is quite fresh, and then it is drawn over a round stick prepared for the purpose, and greased with blubber. Sometimes the gullet is also scraped with mussel-shells. When it has dried upon the stick and has been cut lengthwise into narrow strips, it is ready for use. The thread thus obtained has this advantage over the sinew-thread that it does not soften in water.

The Greenland women are very capable at their work, and are especially skilful with their needle.