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The Tschuktschi, and their Habitations


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Gallery locationNot on display

Object details:

Object ID PAI4176
Description This engraving after a drawing by John Webber comes from the official account of Cook's third voyage, 'A voyage to the Pacific Ocean', published by Scatcherd and Whitaker in 1784. Captain James Cook (1728-1779) made three separate voyages to the Pacific (with the ships Endeavour, Resolution, Adventure, and Discovery) and did more than any other voyager to explore the Pacific and Southern Ocean. Cook not only encountered Pacific cultures for the first time, but also assembled the first large-scale collections of Pacific objects to be brought back to Europe. He was killed in Hawaii in 1779. John Webber was the artist on Cook’s third voyage from 1776-1780. Cook travelled to Chukotski Peninsula, Siberia on August 10, 1778. In this engraving, two Chukchi men are armed with bows and arrows at left, and a third figure and a dog are at right. Three summer huts (yarangas) are at right. In the background behind the figures a hillock (semidugout) serves as another habitation underground. The tents are summer huts of the Chukchi, which Cook describes as ‘pretty large, and circular and brought to a point at the top; the framing was of slight poles and bones, covered with the skins of Sea animals…About the habitations were erected several stages ten or twelve feet high, such as we had observed on some part of the American coast, they were built wholy of bones and seemed to be intended to dry skins, fish &ca upon, out of the reach of their dogs…’ The hillock on the far left appears to be a winter house of the natives, of which Cook observed that the floor ‘is sunk a little below the surface of the earth.’ It was of an oval form, with a framing of wood and whale bones. ‘Over this framing is laid a covering of strong coarse grass and over it a covering of earth; so that on the out side it looks like a little hillock, supported by a wall of stone, about 3 or 4 feet high which is built round the two sides and one end, at the other end the earth is raised sloaping to walk up to the entrance which is by a hold at the top of the roof over that end.’ The ‘semisdugouts’ had two entrances: a corridor in winter ‘and a round opening on the top, closed with a whale’s shoulder blade and used only in summer.’ Mounted in album with PAI4078-PAI4175, PAI4177-PAI4214.; Page 220.; Plate No. 51.
Date made Aug 1778

Artist/Maker Webber, John
Lerpiniere, Daniel
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials engraving & etching
Measurements Sheet: 400 x 570 mm; Plate: 257 x 408 mm
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