POSSIBLY LATE PUNUK OR THULE CULTURE
Bill Johnstone Collection, U.K.; Alaska Shop, NYC
It had been suggested that this work originates with Canada’s Dorset Culture, and we are open to that possibility. But we feel it may be more likely that this female figure may have been carved in the Late Punuk Period in Alaska, or perhaps in the early Thule Period, either in northern Alaska or Arctic Canada (see references below). Since the figure is considerably weathered there is no way of knowing if it had any engraved decoration, however it certainly possesses considerable sculptural presence. Its pose suggests that the figure may have had spiritual or ritual meaning, and that it was not simply carved as a doll.
References: for works with some stylistic resemblances see Allen Wardwell, Ancient Eskimo Ivories of the Bering Strait (Hudson Hills Press, 1986) fig 115 (also in William Fitzhugh et al, Gifts from the Ancestors, 2009, Fig. 17, p. 135); and Donald Ellis Gallery, Art of the Arctic: Reflections of the Unseen: Ivories from the Bering Sea (2015) pl. 20. See also Sculpture/Inuit (Canadian Eskimo Arts Council/U of T) cat. 42.
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