North America

Head
Punuk / Thule

Alaska

Thule or Punuk Culture
Archaic Eskimo
9th – 15th century

Carved walrus tooth
Height: 2 in. (5.4 cm)

Ex private collection, Geneva

Published: White Memory

Price: on request

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Carved in a walrus tooth, this carved human head is intensely expressive.
The sacred, dignified air that emanates from the figure suggests the gigantic size and purity of line that are reminiscent of classical antiquities.
According to Fitzhugh and Kaplan (Inua: Spirit World of the Bering Sea Eskimo, 1982, p. 156), figures and heads carved in ivory were used to insure that certain important members of the village returned safe and sound from hunting or fishing expeditions. They also played a role as fertility charms, amulets for ancestor worship and for shamanic practices.