Ear pull

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Ear pull match at the 2008 World Eskimo Indian Olympics

The ear pull is a traditional Inuit game or sport which tests the competitors' ability to endure pain,[1] and also strength. In the ear pull, two competitors sit facing each other, their legs straddled and interlocked. A two-foot-long loop of string, similar to a thick, waxed dental floss, is looped behind their ears, connecting right ear to right ear, or left ear to left ear.[1] The competitors then pull upon the opposing ear using their own ear until the cord comes free or the opponent quits from the pain.[1] The game has been omitted from some Arctic sports competitions due to safety concerns and the squeamishness of spectators;[2][3] the event can cause bleeding and competitors sometimes require stitches.[1]

The Inuit ear pull game is a harsh test of physical endurance....[in which] a thin loop of leather is positioned behind the ears of each of two competitors who then pull away from each other until one gives up in pain.[4]

The ear pull is one example of Inuit games that, "prepare children for the rigors of the arctic environment by stressing hand-eye coordination, problem solving, and physical strength and endurance," as well as helping one keep a mental record of one's endurance levels.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d Eskimo-Indian Olympics Capture Native Traditions : NPR
  2. ^ Salon Wanderlust | The Inuit Olympics
  3. ^ Ear-pull hoopla - CBC Archives
  4. ^ a b Nanda, Serena and Warms, Richard L. (2013). Cultural Anthropology, p.56. 11th edition. Cengage Learning. ISBN 9781285632858.

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