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An exquisitely carved Okvik ivory head from Alaska with dark glossy patina | Donald Ellis Gallery
Profile of a superbly carved Okvik ivory head from Alaska | Donald Ellis Gallery

Human Head

Bering Sea, Alaska

200 BCE - 100 CE

marine mammal ivory

height: 2 ½"

Inventory # CE4278

Please contact the gallery for more information.


The George Terasaki Collection, New York, NY, excavated 2008
Donald Ellis Gallery, New York, NY
Private collection, Toronto, ON


Donald Ellis Gallery catalogue, 2012, pl. 15

Related Examples

Ancient Eskimo Ivories of the Bering Strait, Wardwell, Hudson Hills Press, New York, 1986, pg. 46, pls. 22 and 24, pg. 47, pl. 25 and pg. 51, pl. 35 (heads) and for a group of full figures pg. 37, pl. 2, pg. 38, pl. 3, pg. 40, pl. 9, pg. 41, pls. 12 and 13, pg. 42, pl. 15 and pg. 52, pl. 37

The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas – See: La Rime et La Raison, Ministere de la Culture (France), Editions de la Reunion des Musees Nationaux, Paris, 1984, pg. 214, Cat. No. 265

Sotheby’s, NY, May 17, 2007, lot 73

Two thousand years ago, from approximately 200 BCE to 100 CE, a group of early Inuit people lived in a few small coastal villages on St. Lawrence Island and the neighboring Punuk Islands in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska. This period, commonly known today as the Okvik period or style, is generally considered to be the earliest of the three Old Bering Sea phases.

Although the Arctic climate of the Bering Strait was harsh, food was plentiful. Large numbers of fish and sea mammals were readily available, and as a result, the Okvik were able to develop a rich artistic tradition. Their skilled hunting abilities provided large quantities of walrus ivory, prized for its workability and beauty. Using stone age technology, this dense, hard material was fashioned into utilitarian implements, as well as a small group of mysterious objects now considered icons of indigenous art.

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