Looking Backward: Archaic Arctic Art and Artifacts

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

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Lot 5

Figure Yupik, Sivuqaq (St. Lawrence Island), Pre-1900

Figure Yupik, Sivuqaq (St. Lawrence Island), Pre-1900
Lot 5 Details
Figure Yupik, Sivuqaq (St. Lawrence Island), Pre-1900

janus-faced, wood with inset Russian blue bead labrets
7.1 x 1.2 x 1.8 in — 18 x 3 x 4.5 cm

Estimate $1,000-$1,500

Realised: $2,160
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report

Additional Images
Figure Yupik, Sivuqaq (St. Lawrence Island), Pre-1900
  • Figure Yupik, Sivuqaq (St. Lawrence Island), Pre-1900

Bill Johnstone collection, Carlisle, UK


Wooden human or humanoid carvings among the peoples of the Bering Sea region are often referred to as dolls, and yet many exhibit characteristics that suggest religious or ceremonial significance. Small human or humanoid figures among the Alaskan Yupik are noted for their use in fertility rituals, as stand ins for people away from villages during festivals, and in hunting and fishing ceremonies. [1]

The present example is particularly notable for its janus-faced head. One side of the carving bears a distinctive male visage distinguished by the presence of two symmetrical labrets and also by the characteristic upturned mouth associated with men in historic Bering Sea imagery. The opposing face has been largely shorn away but the bottom portion showing the downturned frowning mouth associated with images of women remains. It has been suggested that the common occurrence of male and female faces in combination in Bering Sea art indicate that they served as charms, male and female spirits in the Bering Sea cosmology. [2]

(1) Fitzhugh, William W. and Susan A. Kaplan, Inua, (Washington: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1982), 156.
(2) Ibid.,192.


Wear and losses commensurate with age. Overall good condition.

Please contact the specialist for further condition information.


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.