Inuit Art

November 20, 2018

LOT 134

Lot 134

Lot 134 Details


decorated with pictographs, mid 19th century
0.5" x 20.1" — 1.25 x 51 cm.

Estimate $3,000-$5,000

Realised: $10,200
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report


Bow drills are used for piercing holes and for engraving works. The black paint was created from charcoal or gunpowder. The drill part is generally wooden with a point, made to revolve rapidly forwards and backwards. A raw hide thong would be passed around it twice, and then fastened to the bow at each end and sewn back and forth, with the drill usually being held in the user's teeth.

These types of engravings were in considerable vogue with Europeans in the 19th century, as they portrayed silhouettes of typical Inuit day to day life. However, ivories excavated in Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska dated from 1000 AD show that this was a genuinely Inuit artistic style, which had originated in the Bering Strait in prehistoric times. The excavated ivory depicted representations of four men in an umiak harpooning a whale, with two men in kayaks throwing bird spears at loons. This tradition of engraving seems to represent the backbone from which the later pictorial engravings emerged.

Susan M. Pearce, Eskimo Carving, Shire Publication, UK, 1985, page 14-15, 46


Condition report available upon request

LOT 134

About Condition Ratings

  • 5 Stars: Excellent - No discernable damage, flaws or imperfections
  • 4 Stars: Very Good - Minor flaws or imperfections visible only under close inspection using specialised instruments or black light
  • 3 Stars: Good - Minor flaws visible upon inspection under standard lighting
  • 2 Stars: Fair - Exhibits flaws or damage that may draw the eye under standard lighting
  • 1 Star: Poor - Flaws or damage immediately apparent under standard lighting (examples: missing components, rips, broken glass, damaged surfaces, etc.)

Note: Condition ratings and condition details are the subjective opinions of our specialists and should be used as a guide only. Waddington’s uses due care when preparing condition details, however, our staff are not professional restorers or conservators. Condition details and reports are not warranties and each lot is sold “as is” in accordance with the buyer’s terms and conditions of sale. In all cases the prospective purchaser is responsible for inspecting the property themselves prior to placing a bid.