Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The iqyax^ and the Sea Otter
So, perhaps coincidentally, the sculptural assemblage of kayak and sea otter is a belated celebration of the one hundred year anniversary of the cessation of the sea otter hunt.
To modern urban sensibilities, the notion of hunting sea otters is abhorrent since they are so indisputably cute even as full grown adults.
But sea otters were hunted for practical reasons, that is, for money that the Chinese were willing to pay for their fur.
The Chinese needed the fur for their aristocracy which needed the luxuriant fur to trim their aristocratic robes as shown above.
The Spanish in America, specifically in Baja and Alta California, received mercury in payment from the Chinese for sea otter furs. The mercury was then used to extract gold from ore and the gold was shipped back to Spain to finance wars against other European nations. And so it goes.
Sea otters are safe for the time being. Oil has been found to be much more vital to economic well-being than mercury or gold.