Large Okvik Figure

OBS I, Alaska

Okvik, Old Bering Sea I
Archaic Eskimo

Marine ivory
200 B.C. – 100 A.D.
Height: 6 ½ in. (16.5 cm)

Excavated at Savoonga, St. Lawrence Island, Alaska circa 1965-1967

Published: The American Dream

Price: sold

America - Alaska
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According to William Fitzhugh, the purpose of these enigmatic human figurines remains unclear. Analogies drawn from the historic period suggest that perhaps they were made as children’s toys or dolls, for use in fertility ceremonies, or for calling upon the “masters” of game animals.
Other ethnographic parallels recorded in the early 20th century demonstrate that human figurines could be used by their owners as personal assistants and spiritual helpers to capture prey or as guardians to safeguard humankind from those physical and spiritual dangers encountered in the landscape.
All the ethnographic data gathered on the subject lead to the conclusion that these sculptures played a protean, complex role in the archaic cultures of the Bering Strait.
The large human figure presented here was dug out of the permafrost of St. Lawrence Island in the mid-1960s. Redolent of sacredness, it seems to fix us with a gaze that is infinitely poetic and magnetic, transcending time and space.