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THE little Greenland woman is bid as belong, scrambling with an amazing con
Greenland man. Even if she is the first and finding their way home again with a child, she is looked at with as kindly eyes never-failing local sense. It must always as if she were a boy. If she is the fifth, be remembered that a town in Greenland sixth, or perhaps the seventh in a row of in no way resembles a town, even of the girls, she may be less gladly received. I least dimensions, in civilized countries. have known a father to clothe his fifth or 'The houses lie helter-skelter among the sixth daughter as a boy, and to treat her rocks along the sea, and between them run in every way as if she were one. When narrow paths, clearly visible only in winlater a brother was born, the girl received ter, when they are marked out by dirty the female rights again.
footsteps on the white snow. Only twice The first year of her life the little one in more than twenty-five years have I hangs at her mother's breast, or takes her known of children in real danger. daily rest in the amaut, an enormous sack, At the age of five the seriousness of life with a wide opening through which the begins with school; and, although, spemother or servant puts her head, letting cially in places where there is no Danish the sack hang on her shoulders. In this priest, this is a very small thing, neverthethe child is put, and stands leaning toward less, it is a limiting of the treasured indeits bearer's back, until, in sleeping, it pendence and a restraint from which most slides down in the sack.
of the children would prefer to escape. The mother and the maid (even the Besides going to school, there are other poorest woman has a maid for her child) duties, especially if there are younger sisare both its complete slaves.
ters or brothers. To relieve the mother The child suckles until the next little and the maid, the amaut is put on the little one comes, even if three or more years lie girl, the baby is placed in it, and away the between. At this age she has long grown little bearer totters with her heavy load, away from the amaut and the maid, and reeling like a boat in a high sea, with the has put on the national dress. Already corners of the amaut brushing against her she begins to walk about at her own risk. heels. It is astonishing to see such tots running At school the little girl receives only inabout far from the house to which they struction from books, and this is very lim1 The writer of this article, as the wife of the Danish Governor of Greenland, is qualified
by experience to give authoritative information on this subject.
ited. She learns to read and write her seldom later, she gets married. The marown language, but she does both poorly. riage is not the result of any special love She can do a very little counting, but or sympathy between the two young peochiefly she is taught the catechism and ple, but the parents on both sides make the stories from the Bible. Needlework and selection. knitting-in a word, all female handiwork The houses of the Eskimos are all built -she learns at home. As soon as her fin- of stone and turf, with the windows opengers are long and strong enough to master ing toward the sun, the one entrance ala needle, under her mother's eye she begins ways being on the side that is least exposed to sew on articles belonging to her own to the wind. Along the back wall runs a dress — first those of lighter stuff, as the platform, a pallet of boards, raised eighteen chemise and the anorak cover; then, later, inches above the floor. It is from six to eight the inore difficult garments, which are feet deep, and through its whole length it made of skins, as breeches and kamiks, is divided into rooms or spaces of eight or with the embroideries belonging to them. ten feet. Each room is separated from the The little girl must also assist in the daily neighboring room by a partition of board carrying of water and in gathering heather or skin. An open passage runs the whole for the household.
length of the house along the pallet rooms, The confirmation at thirteen or four- and serves for the traffic of all the inteen years of age makes no essential differ- mates; but each pallet room claims for its ence in the young girl's daily life and du- own the bit of passageway adjoining. ties, though she may perhaps bear a little Each pallet room is occupied by one more responsibility in the domestic life. family, and there they stay night and day. She does not now play in the daytime any The best pallet room is the innermost, and more. She prefers the twilight or the dark is always occupied by the owner of the evenings to walk about with her friends. house, or the oldest, if the house has more She takes her responsibility lightly, how- than one owner. The three or four, or ever; for, in reality, she does only what perhaps five, rooms are occupied by the pleases her. If she wishes to go as a rower families according to their rank. If, for in a boat, especially if it is in European instance, a father is the owner of the service, which pays her well, she will not house, then his eldest son has the next ask permission of her parents.
room, and the second son the next, and so will scold or blame her for going.
on. The pallet room nearest the entrance, At eighteen or twenty, sometimes earlier, dark, cold, and uncomfortable, is assigned to
the youngest son with his family, mothers- Furniture is quite unknown in a comin-law, maid-servants, or foster daughters, mon Eskimo house. The pallet is parlor, as they are called, and other persons. bedchaniber, dining-room, while the space
A large common bed is made for a under the pallet is storehouse for fuel, wet whole family on the pallet, which is cov- and dried skins, raw and cooked eatables, ered first with a layer of hay or straw, and dogs with whelps in the winter, earthen
then with seal or reindeer skin. The dishes, coffee-cups, and whatever they can parents lie in the middle, with the boys on find no better place for. the father's side, and the girls on the On small, three-legged stools stand the mother's, the youngest ones nearest the lamps, and above them are suspended parents, and all with their heads toward wooden frames upon which wet kamiks the passage. The bedclothes consist only and other garments are dried and the of pillows and feather-beds, mostly very hunter's and fisher's implements and weapsparingly provided with feathers. Such ons are laid. Each member of the family refinements as sheets and pillow-cases are has a small box in which to keep his or her not used.
things; and this is about all the furniture. If the women had only to take care of large one is used as a cover for the wotheir respective rooms, their work would men's boat or for the kayak, to lay over be as nothing. To pile the bedclothes up the pallet, or to keep for sale. A small against the back wall, sweep the pallet- one is used for the outer or inner kamik skin over with a bird's wing, and throw skin, or for breeches. the sweepings under the pallet, that noth- It is not necessary to describe here ing shall be wasted, are not overwhelming what perhaps can interest only a tanner, tasks. Nor is the cooking, for it is of the but the work of the women is incredibly most primitive kind. All that is not eaten hard labor, and calls for great skill and raw is boiled. Nothing is ever roasted, intelligence. and there are no complicated dishes. Nor As soon as the skins are ready for use, do they trouble themselves about a neat the women cut them with a knife called table or cleansing the utensils. The dishes the ulo, a broad, flat, half-moon-shaped are never washed either before or after a knife, with a handle in the middle. The meal.
skins are cut into the strangest shapes, In an Eskimo community there is no which no tailor or dressmaker would ever division of labor. Every one is his, or imagine could be fitted to the human form, more rightly her, own tradesman or me- but which, nevertheless, in their clever chanic. Neither are there any shops hands, become diverse articles of dress, where one can go and buy the needed with the most elaborate embroideries, things or the materials from which to made by sewing together small bits of the make the things. It is true that in almost colored skins. The thread that is used is all places where a hundred or more per- made of the sinews of the seal, whale, or sons live there may be a shop kept by the reindeer. It is pulled out of the flesh, Danish administration; but it contains dried, and split. When it is used in sewonly such things as the Greenlanders can- ing, it is rolled against the cheek with the not procure for themselves--Alour, groats, palm of the hand. The whale thread is peas, coffee, sugar, tea, tobacco, cotton and the best. Every sort of thread has its woolen stuffs, boards, hardware, etc. special use. Whatever else the people need, they must One of the most important labors is produce themselves, and the work is per- covering the kayak and repairing, or covformed almost entirely by the women. ering the woman's boat. The kayak of a
The seal-hunting time, which begins in good seal hunter has to be covered every autumn and continues until spring, is the year, while the woman's boat needs coverhardest time for the woman; for then she ing only every other year. It is almost has to take care of what her husband, son, incomprehensible how the slender, small or brother brings home. When the hunter women's hands can master the skins, which comes to the shore with his prey, he has are stretched like the head of a drum. But already done his duty; and then it is for the work is done so skilfully, and with the women to do theirs. He leaves the such nimble fingers, that it is a pleasure to heavy slain animal on the beach, while all watch it, and all the while there is such the women from the house run down to a chattering, gossiping, and laughing, that haul it up over the icy cliff to the house ; no one would think the work hard and or, if it is very cold, into the house itself, important. where the mistress, assisted by all the other All these tasks are not, of course, the female inmates, Alays the skin, quarters the work of every day; but over and above all body, scrapes off the blubber from the this are the every-day returning tasks, such skin.
as the care of clothes. The Greenlanders While the skin is still wet, it must be have but few suits of clothes, which must stretched with force for drying. If it is be examined every day. When the hunter small, it is stretched on the snow-covered comes home, he is wet from top to toe, and ground; if it is large, on frames made for every piece of his dress has to be dried over that purpose. This is not agreeable work the lamp or in the open air, turned inside when the temperature is ten or twelve de- out, stretched, rubbed, wrung, and pulled grees below zero.
for hours, until it gets smooth and pliable. When the skin is dry, it has to be pre- To all this must be added the embroideries pared according to its size and quality. A that decorate these garments, and that take
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