Inuit Art: Visions of Transformation

Auction begins to close:
March 23, 2023 at 2:00 pm ET

Online Auction
LOT 70

Lot 70


Lot 70 Details
UNIDENTIFIED ARTIST, Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland)


ivory, baleen
largest 5.25 x 1.75 x 1.25 in — 13.3 x 4.4 x 3.2 cm

Estimate $500-$700

Realised: $600
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report

Additional Images

Private Collection, Toronto, ON


Originally, Greenlandic tupilaqs were dangerous magical objects, sometimes said to be made from the bones of dead animals wrapped in skins; they were considered to have the power to bring about death. The carving of small tupilaq figures made for sale or trade began in East Greenland in the early Twentieth century, spreading to West Greenland in the 1930s.

Twentieth century tupilaqs, typically carved in ivory or muskox horn, often appear (as here) gleefully pursuing the macabre ends of their historic counterparts.


Bodil, Kaalund, The Art of Greenland: Sculpture, Crafts, and Painting. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979. p. 25-27 and 67-75.

Many countries prohibit or restrict importation or exportation of property containing ivory, whale bone, sealskin, and/or products derived from other endangered or protected species, and require special licenses or permits in order to import or export such property. It is the responsibility of the buyer to ensure that the item is properly and lawfully exported / imported. Please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialists for further details.


Please contact the specialist for further condition information.

LOT 70

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.