By Michael Reynolds
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Additional info for Earthship: How to Build Your Own, Vol. 1
Next they were cut with an ulu and sewn with a bone needle, usually made from the leg of a gull or arctic hare. For this, women used the blind stitch, a sewing technique that only partly perforated the skins’ thicknesses, creating waterproof seams. They made sinew thread by shredding caribou, seal, or, in parts of Greenland, narwhal tendon. Moreover, women were the engineers in Eskimo societies: It was they who erected these shelters upon arrival at each new summer encampment, setting up the frame, stretching the tent-skin over it, and securing the cover’s skirt with stones against inclement weather.
The antiquity and origin of the snowblock igloo is uncertain (Birket-Smith 1936:30; Kuznetsov 1964:239) and hard to trace archaeologically because F ESKIMO ARCHITECTURE C D snow, the abandoned building material, disappeared with the next spring thaw (Savelle 1984). In the early historic period, the Central Eskimos made stone-and-sod winter houses like those of their Thule forbears. By the midnineteenth century, however, all but the Labrador Eskimos had adopted the snow house (Boas 1901). ; Stefánsson 1914:61).
Still earlier, in the northern part of West Greenland, people constructed domed houses—probably single-family dwellings—using whale bones in place of stone or wood before or after moving from the winter house (Birket-Smith 1924:145–146). The Polar Eskimos used a second kind of spring and summer stone house, the qarmaq. Intended as temporary shelter, this seems to resemble a shelter that Kane described as “one of those strange little kennels which serve as dormitories when the igloë is crowded” (1856:2:159).