Three Hatch Baidarka of Aleut

Presented By Hakodate City Museum

Presented By Hakodate City Museum

In 1875, the Treaty of Saint Petersburg was signed between Japan and Russia. This treaty established all of the Kuril islands as Japanese territory, and Hakodate became the key port for ships traveling to the Kuril islands.

Known as a “baidarka” in Russian, this large boat was collected at Simushir, one of the middle islands of the Kuril archipelago, by high-ranking officials who had cruised the Kuril islands on the occasion of ratifying the treaty. It is currently the world’s only known specimen of a three-person vessel of the indigenous people of the Aleutian islands.

Christian missionaries “discovered” Ezochi in the early 17th century. In the mid 18th century, Bering, an explorer and officer of the Russian Navy, explored the eastern reaches of Kamchatka and the Eurasian continent on a territorial expansion survey. Later, Russia moved into the Aleutian islands to exploit newly-discovered sea otter resources.

A statutory company of Russia forced Aleut people to move from the Aleutians to the Kuril islands and put them to work as sea otter hunters. Larger boats were employed to efficiently transport their catches, eventually resulting in the development of three-person vessels. It is thought that the middle hatch was sometimes occupied by a government official or missionary. This sea kayak provides insight into a complex history spanning 300 years in northeast Asia.

Words Masaharu Taniguchi
Translation by Xene Inc.

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