Inuit Dart Games

Bone and Nail Inuit Dart

In the non-Inuit parts of the world, within Pubs and Taverns many people try their skill at throwing a pointed feathered missle at a target attached to a wall. Those feathered missles have evolved from arrows - as in bow and arrow!

In contrast, an Inuit Dart game evolved from another source, and is played quite differently than Pub and Tavern dart games. Within the traditional tool kit of the Inuit hunter were a number of devices used for drilling holes. One was the Niortut - a shaft made from caribou antler with a point made of caribou or polar bear bone, but later the point was made from a piece of metal such as a nail. The top end of the shaft was tapered to fit into a bone "mouth piece" - the Kingmiark. A similar device was the Puttu - used for putting holes into a hard object. A third device, the Kikiadlaksit, was used especially to drill holes into the splicings and bindings of a kayak frame. (E.H. Mitchell, Canadian Eskimo Artifacts, Ottawa: Canadian Arctic Producers, 1970).

The photograph illustrates a Niortut. It was purchased by the Museum from an Inuit cooperative in 1979. It is 16.5cm long x 3.1cm wide x 1.5cm thick. Information received with the object indicated that when used in a traditional Inuit game, the following occurred. Another object was placed on the ground as a target or a target was scratched into the ground or snow. The Niortut was placed on the head with the point facing forward. The player aimed, the head was then tipped, and the Niortut was allowed to fall toward the target!

Last update June 20, 2010