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Inuit Snow Goggles

Inuit Snow Goggles

This man, wearing a pair of strange goggles is not trying to make a fashion statement. He is just getting ready for a trek across the frozen tundra.

The Inuit, Yupik, and other Arctic peoples have been making and wearing such extremely primitive but nonetheless effective pieces of eye protection for thousands of years. These snow goggles are fashioned out of whatever material the remote Arctic offers. Driftwood, animal bones, walrus ivory, and caribou antlers are the most obvious choices. But snow goggles made from seashore grasses have also been discovered.

The goggles are carved to fit the wearer’s face, with a large groove cut in the bottom where it can rest on the bridge of the nose. A pair of headband strap made from walrus hide or caribou sinew holds the goggles in place tightly against the face. A narrow horizontal slit cut along the length of the goggles and siting directly in front of the eye reduces the amount of light that enters and thus cuts down the glare from the snow.

Because these snow goggles are handmade, often by the wearer themselves, they vary in styles, shape and size.

Inuit Snow Goggles

Inuit snow goggles and a wooden case.

Inuit Snow Goggles

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