An umiak is an open boat, with a wooden frame and a covering of bearded seal or walrus hide. Although comparatively light, it could transport up to thirty people and several tonnes of goods. It was used for both travelling and hunting and tended to be streamlined.
The umiak was almost exclusively used as a means of transport. It was the family boat, the “women’s boat”, in which long summer journeys were made, loaded with weapons and provisions, children, dogs, tents, and clothing. An elder sat in the stern controlling the rudder, while the women rowed, keeping time with songs. Sometimes sails were used, with the mast placed right in the bow. Alongside, the men kept pace in their kayaks. When they landed, the umiak was overturned on the shore and used as a temporary shelter.About the artist Inquire about this artwork