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Carved marine mammal ivory figure of a female shaman with chin scarification | Donald Ellis Gallery
Ivory carving of a female shaman with ear perforations and chin scarification | Donald Ellis Gallery
Rear view of a rare marine mammal ivory carved to represent a female shaman | Donald Ellis Gallery


Kodiak Island, Alaska

18th century or earlier

marine mammal ivory

height: 2 ⅞"

Inventory # E4453

Please contact the gallery for more information.


Private Collection, Santa Fe, NM


Berezkin, Yuri. The Alutiit / Sugpiat: A Catalog of the Collections of the Kunstkamera. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012, pl. 400, 401, 402
Fitzhugh, William, Crowell, Aron. Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1988, pl. 92


Driscoll, Bernadette, Swinton, George. The Inuit Amautik: I Like My Hood To Be Full. Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1980, pl. 100

This extremely rare figural carving likely represents a female shaman or ancestor with chin scarifications. The large ears are carved with notable attention to anatomic detail. Thinly incised eyebrows sit atop small set-back eyes, finely modeled cheekbones, and a slightly opened mouth with protruding lower lip. Ear and nose perforations might have once held metal ornaments. A fine groove encircles the head, possibly to hold the parka hood in place, while a small chamber at the top might once have contained powerful medicine. On the reverse, the spine is indicated by a deeply carved groove. This exceptional figure likely captures a high-ranking elder. Monumental in presence, it is one of the finest known examples of its kind.