Looking Backward: Archaic Arctic Art and Artifacts

July 0914, 2022
Auction begins to close at 3:00 pm ET

Online Auction
LOT 25

Lot 25

Hand Adze, Old Bering Sea, Shishmaref, Pre-1800

Hand Adze, Old Bering Sea, Shishmaref,  Pre-1800
Lot 25 Details
Hand Adze, Old Bering Sea, Shishmaref, Pre-1800

whalebone and jadeite, anterior surface of haft embellished with incised chevron motif, individually inscribed with collector's inventory numbers
4.5 x 8 x 2 in — 11.4 x 20.3 x 5.1 cm

Estimate $250-$350

Realised: $192
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report

Additional Images
Hand Adze, Old Bering Sea, Shishmaref,  Pre-1800
  • Hand Adze, Old Bering Sea, Shishmaref,  Pre-1800
  • Hand Adze, Old Bering Sea, Shishmaref,  Pre-1800

Emma Olanna, Shishmaref, AK; Native Hospital Gift Shop, Anchorage, AK;
Acquired by the consignor from the above


This early adze is notable for its haft embellished with a design of chevrons and small spurs. While a motif recurrent in many variations throughout Paleo and historic Arctic imagery, the design’s presence outside of the region south of Norton Sound fell largely out of use following the spread of Thule culture ca. 1000 CE. [1] The motif has been said to represent the skeleton of an animal, imagery often present in a shamanic context in the Western Arctic and Northwest Coast of North America.

(1) Fitzhugh, William W. and Susan A. Kaplan, Inua, (Washington: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1982), 249.

Please note that this lot is an amalgam of components from various sites.

Related Works:
Miles, Charles, Indian and Eskimo Artifacts of North America, (New York: Bonanza books, 1963), 80, pl. 3.39-3.40.
National Museum of the American Indian, catalog no. 10-1808. Click here to read more

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.


Wear and losses commensurate with age. Overall good condition.

Please contact the specialist for further condition information.

LOT 25

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.