Aleutian Sealskin Baidarka with Russian Priest
Made by Sergie Sovoroff, Nikolski, Alaska
This model Aleut kayak (Baidarka) represents an extremely efficient water craft featuring a frame made of (drift) wood and covering of walrus hide (or in the model's case -- seal gut). The model also features three figures, one being a priest. The Bible that he holds is opened to the the Lord's Prayer. The other two are Aleuts wearing hunting hats and holding paddles.
A sister Baidarka to this vessel by Mr. Sovoroff is featured in Aleut and Eskimo Art Tradition and Innovation in South Alaska by Dorothy Jean Ray (Pg 105, Plate 32). He also included the "Story of the Aleutian Bidarky" with the model in the book, in which he describes the form of Aleut transportation before 1910. The "bidarky" was the primary mode of transportation for the Russian Orthodox priest that lived amongst the Native people. He used it to visit each village along the Aleutian island chain once a year. The award for the "bidarky" crew was the ability to fish along the journey. However, the hunting of larger game, like seals, was discouraged.
L.17" : W. 2 ¼" (with oars: 6 ¼") : H. 4 ¾"