Winged Object

Archives | Alaska

Winged Object

Alaska

Harpoon stabilizer

Old Bering Sea II culture (Archaic Eskimo)
100 – 300 A.D.
Carved walrus tusk
Length: 4 ½ in. (11.2 cm)

Ex private collection, New York
Ex private collection, Geneva

Published: White Memory, 2016
Sold
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 over 1500 years back.

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