Artful Baleen Plates

A baleen plate with a drawing of a ship in paint
Smithsonian NMNH

In the years following World War II, Japan’s infrastructure was devastated and its ability to feed its population was crippled. Recognizing both that the nation was on the verge of starvation and the simultaneous need to rebuild Japan as an ally, General MacArthur rallied support to revitalize Japan’s commercial whaling industry. This is a baleen plate from one of the whales killed by Japan's whalers. In addition to writing the identifying number, a member of the crew also took the time to paint an image of the whaling ship and an iceberg.

Tags: Whales