Page:Firemaking Apparatus in the U.S. National Museum.djvu/29

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FIRE-MAKING APPARATUS. i)bO It is an auonialy that the African, to light the fire to smelt the iron out of which he forges his remarkable weapons, should use sticks of wood. . ESKIMO FOUR-PART APPARATUS. The arts of the Eskimo yield more satisfactory results to students of comi)arative ethnology than those of any other people. In all their range the culture is uniform; one finds this fact forced upon his observation who has examined the series of specimi'ns in the National Museum, where they are arranged in order by localities from Labrador to southern Alaska. Prof. Otis T. Mason's paper on Eskimo throwing-sticks* gave a new interpretation to this fact and powerfully forwarded the study of ethnology by showing the classificatory valne of the distribution of an art. Professor Mason points out that though the Eskimo culture is uni- form in general, in particular the arts show the modification wrought by surroundings and isolation — tribal individuality, it may be called — and admit of the arrangement of this people into a number of groups that have been subjected to these influences. The Eskimo fire-making tools in the Museum admit of an ethno- graphic arrangement, but in this paper it is not found necessary to make a close studj^ of this kind. From every locality whence the Mn- seum possesses a complete typical set, it has been figured and described. The Eskimo are not singular in using a four-part apparatus, but are singular in the method of using it. The mouth-piece is the peculiar feature that is found nowhere else. The drilling and fire-making set consists of four parts, viz: The mouth-piece, — sometimes a mere block of wood, ivory, or even the simple concave vertebra of a fish, or the astragalus of a caribou. More often, they show great skill and care in their workmanship, being carved with truth to resemble bear, seals, whales, and walrus. The seal is the most common subject. The upper part is almost always worked out into a block, forming a grip for the teeth. The extent to which some of these are chewed attests the power of the Eskimo jaw. Fre- quently the piece is intended to be held in the hand, or in both hands, hence it has no teeth grip. In the under part is set a piece of stone, in which is hollowed out a cup-shaped cavity to hold the head of the drill. These stones seem to be selected as much for their appearance as for their anti-friction qualities. They use beautifully-mottled stone, marble, obsidian, and ringed concretions. The drill is always a short spindle, thicker than any other drill in the world. It is frequently of the same kind of wood as the hearth. The thong is the usual accompaniment of the fire drill. It is raw- hide of seal or other animals. The handles have a primitive appear- ance; they are nearly always made of bears' teeth, hollow bones, or

  • Mason. — Throwiug-sticks in the National Museum. Smithsonian Report. 1884.

11, p. 279.