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The Steven Michaan Collection of North American Tribal Art : The Art of the Spirit World : Actic
Western Thule
Netting Spacer
Bone, 8” Length, c.1600 -1750
Old Bering Sea Socket Handle
Old Bering Sea Socket Handle
Old Bering Sea Socket Handle

The hide cord nets used for trapping seals were precisely engineered for maximum effectiveness, designed with the animal’s proportions carefully considered.

A net should be large enough for the seal to enter, but with spaces small enough to trap it. With each use and reuse, and a pattern of wetting, stretching, freezing, drying and contracting, the nets would have to be carefully maintained and recalibrated. This netting spacer is a simple device for establishing the correct spacing of the netting grid, allowing the hunter to quickly and easily pull his net into shape.

The two notched ends of the spacer would be fitted into the openings of each net section, and the subsequent cords pulled tight around them. In keeping with the traditional habit of decorating hunting tools with an image of the animal being hunted, this humble, otherwise undecorated device shows a small seal’s head carved into one of the branching ends.