A large winged object
Okvik, Old Bering Sea I culture
200 BC – 100 A.D.
Length: 6 in. (15.2 cm)
Excavated in 1983 at Ivetok site, St Lawrence Island, Alaska
Ex collection Jeffrey R. Myers, New York
Ex private collection, New York since 1984
This ancient Eskimo counterweight, called a “winged object”, was attached to the back of a hunting harpoon in order to ensure its aerodynamic stability in flight. The hunt for marine mammals was essential to survival in the Bering Strait region. Above and beyond their purely functional aspects, these harpoons also had a sacred dimension, which reveals itself here through the finely engraved shamanic designs which cover the surface of this extremely rare sculpture dating 2000 years back.