Saturday, October 24, 2015

Kayaking Helmet

Whitewater kayakers wear helmets to protect their heads from collisions with river rocks. I hadn't realized until recently that Aleut sea kayakers in the Aleutian islands of what is now Alaska would traditionally wear a kind of helmet. Their style of helmet was more for protecting their eyes from glare and spray.

Here's a photo from the British Museum's website of an 18th-century Aleut hunting helmet worn while kayaking. The style was far more practical than it might seem at first glance. The description on the web page explains something of how the materials could have cultural significance as well as usefulness.
I don't like the thought of the cultural imperialism shown by the 'collectors' who brought this helmet and other cultural artifacts around the world to the British Museum... but I do find the online resources are at least making images of these items available for people to see and learn.

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