snuff pestle; snuff mortar


Snuff, powdered tobacco, became an important part of Inuit ceremony in the nineteenth century. Taken in high concentrations, mixed with other substances, it could act as a powerful hallucinogen and, thus, was crucial in bridging the gap between the spiritual and the human worlds. It enabled those trained in the art, such as shamans, to communicate with spirits and ask for aid with blessings or curses. This mortar and pestle, carved from driftwood, would have been used to grind tobacco into snuff and mix in other ingredients. It was probably discarded in the early twentieth century as traditional beliefs were eroded by Christian missionaries.

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