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i u a pi pu pa ti tu ta ki ku ka gi gu ga mi mu ma ni nu na si su sa li lu la ji ju ja vi vu va ri ru ra qi qu qa ngi ngu nga lhi lhu lha

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Karoo Ashevak, ᑲᕈ ᐊᓴᕙ

Settlement: Spence Bay / Taloyoak

(1940-1974) — E4-196

Alternative Names: Ashevak Ashevak, Karoo Ashevak, Mungnelli Ashevak

Karoo Ashevak (also known as Mungnelli) was born in 1940 in the Kitimeot, central Arctic region, of what is now known as Nunavut. He lived in the community of Taloyoak, near Spence Bay. He grew up following the traditional Inuit lifestyle and beliefs. In 1968, he and his wife Doris settled in Taloyoak. At the time, stone and other carving media were scarce. Whalebone, being lighter than stone, was imported for the artists by charter plane from nearby areas of the Arctic, explaining Karoo's extensive use of whalebone for his sculpture.

"In the short span of an artistic career that lasted only about four years before his death in 1974, Karoo Ashevak established himself as one of the major contemporary Inuit sculptors. Working primarily in whalebone, using stone, antler, ivory and baleen mostly for insets and embellishments, Karoo carved spirits, shamans, walruses, bears, birds, human figures and heads. These works are characterized by a lively sense of animation, religious undertones, humour and an assured and acccomplished sculptural genius." Jean Blodgett, from Grasp Tight the Old Ways, 1983.

Ashevak is noted for the unique exploration of his world of dreams and shamanism. Using primarily whalebone Ashevak incorporates stone and ivory, caribou antler and baleen as inlaid detail or additional components.

During his short career he achieved special status within his community, and nearby Uqsuqtuq (Gjoa Haven), influencing an entire generation of artists. Well known within Canada and the United States, Ashevak had solo exhibitions in Toronto, Montreal and New York. While his 1973 exhibition at the American Indian Arts Centre in New York City marked the height of his career, the 1994 exhibition at the National Gallery in Ottawa signified the continuing importance of his work in the context of contemporary Canadian art.

Ashevak died with his family in a house fire on October 19, 1974, at age 34.


  • Arctic Mirror, Canadian Museum of Civilization
  • Art/Inuit/Art: The Rothmans Permanent Collection of Eskimo Sculpture, Rothmans of Pall Mall Canada Ltd.
  • Building on Strengths: New Inuit Art from the Collection, Winnipeg Art Gallery
  • Collectable Sculpture 1987, Webster Galleries
  • Collector's Choice: 1965-1980, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
  • Contemporary Inuit Art, National Gallery of Canada
  • Cultures of the Sun and the Snow: Indian and Eskimo Art of the Americas, Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal held at "Man and His World"
  • First Annual Collectors' Invitational Exhibition, Inuk 1/Eskimo Art
  • Granville Island Canadian Inuit Sculpture Exhibition (first exhibition), Vancouver Inuit Art Society
  • Grasp Tight the Old Ways: Selections from the Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art, Art Gallery of Ontario
  • Im Schatten der Sonne: Zeitgenossische Kunst der Indianer und Eskimos in Kanada/In the Shadow of the Sun: Contemporary Indian and Inuit Art in Canada, Canadian Museum of Civilization
  • Immaginario Inuit Arte e cultura degli esquimesi canadesi, Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
  • Inuit Art From the Glenbow Collection, Glenbow Museum
  • Inuit Art in the 1970s, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre
  • Inuit Art: A Selection of Inuit Art from the Collection of the National Museum of Man, Ottawa, and the Rothmans Permanent Collection of Inuit Sculpture, Canada, National Museum of Man, Ottawa and Rothmans of Pall Mall Canada Ltd.
  • Inuit Games/Inuit Pinguangit/Jeux des inuit, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
  • Inuit Masks, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
  • Inuit Masterworks: Selections from the Collection of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, McMichael Canadian Collection
  • Inuit Sculpture 1974/Sculpture Inuit 1974, Lippel Gallery
  • Karoo Ashevak, Winnipeg Art Gallery
  • Karoo Ashevak 1940 - 1974 Sculpture, The Upstairs Gallery
  • Karoo Ashevak Sculpture, The Innuit Gallery of Eskimo Art
  • Karoo Ashevak Whalebone Sculpture, Lippel Gallery
  • Karoo Ashevak: Spirits, American Indian Arts Centre
  • Karoo in Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada
  • Kitikmeot, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
  • Masters of the Arctic: An Exhibition of Contemporary Inuit Masterworks, Presented by the Amway Corporation at the United Nations General Assembly
  • Masterwork Sculpture 1985, Inuit Gallery of Vancouver
  • Rothmans' Collection of Inuit Sculpture, Kitchener - Waterloo Art Gallery
  • Sanaugasi Takujaksat: A Travelling Celebration of Inuit Sculpture, Presented by Canadian Arctic Producers Ltd., with the assistance of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Ottawa
  • Sculpture, Canadian Eskimo Arts Council a competition/exhibition organized as a contribution to the Centennial of the N.W.T.
  • Sculpture Inuit: Stone/Bone circa 1960-1979, Canadiana Galleries
  • Sculpture of the Inuit: Lorne Balshine Collection/Lou Osipov Collection/ Dr. Harry Winrob Collection, Surrey Art Gallery
  • Selections from the John and Mary Robertson Collection of Inuit Art, Agnes Etherington Art Centre Queen's University
  • Spirits and Shamans/Esprits et chamans, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
  • Spirits by Karoo Ashevak and Other Sculptors of Spence Bay, Franz Bader Gallery
  • Stones, Bones, Cloth, and Paper: Inuit Art in Edmonton Collections, Edmonton Art Gallery
  • The Coming and Going of the Shaman: Eskimo Shamanism and Art, Winnipeg Art Gallery
  • The Early Years: Sculpture from the 50's and 60's, The Innuit Gallery of Eskimo Art
  • The Inuit Imagination, Winnipeg Art Gallery
  • The Klamer Family Collection of Inuit Art from the Art Gallery of Ontario, University of Guelph
  • The Spirit of the Land, The Koffler Gallery
  • Uumajut: Animal Imagery in Inuit Art, Winnipeg Art Gallery
  • Whalebone Carvings and Inuit Prints, Memorial University of Newfoundland Art Gallery
  • White Sculpture of the Inuit, Simon Fraser Gallery, Simon Fraser University


  • Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Fort Worth
  • Amway Environmental Foundation Collection, Ada
  • Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
  • Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull
  • Glenbow Museum, Calgary
  • Inuit Cultural Institute, Rankin Inlet
  • Klamer Family Collection, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
  • McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg
  • Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal, Montreal
  • Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
  • Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, Yellowknife
  • Rothmans Permanent Collection of Eskimo Sculpture, Toronto
  • Sarick Collection, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
  • University of Alberta, Edmonton
  • Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg


Title Last Sold At Auction
BIRD 2013-05 (May 2013)
BIRD FLYING TO NEST WITH EGGS 2010-04 (April 2010)
BIRD GUARDING NEST OF EGGS 2014-11 (November 2014)
BIRD IN NEST WITH EGGS 2020-09 (September 2020)
BUST OF A SHAMAN 2018-11 (November 2018)
DRUMMER 2021-12 (December 2021)
HEAD OF AN INUK 2011-11 (November 2011)
HOODED INUK 2015-11 (November 2015)
HUMAN HAND 2013-11 (November 2013)
INUIT FIGURE 2007-04 (April 2007)
NESTING BIRD 2014-11 (November 2014)
SHAMAN 2013-05 (May 2013)
SHAMAN DRUM DANCING 2017-05 (May 2017)
SHAMAN DRUMMER 2015-11 (November 2015)
SHAMAN WITH MITTENS 2021-05 (May 2021)
SHAMAN’S FACE 2013-11 (November 2013)
SPIRIT 2012-04 (April 2012)
TRANSFORMATION 2009-04 (April 2009)
WALRUS 2022-09 (September 2022)

Recent Auction Results

Estimate: 4,000 — 6,000
Sold: Sep 2022 — Sold For: $8,400
Estimate: 20,000 — 30,000
Sold: Jun 2022 — Sold For: $28,800
Estimate: 60,000 — 90,000
Sold: Dec 2021 — Sold For: $132,000
Estimate: 10,000 — 15,000
Sold: May 2021 — Sold For: $31,200
Estimate: 4,000 — 6,000
Sold: Sep 2020 — Sold For: $9,600
Estimate: 4,000 — 6,000
Sold: Nov 2018 — Sold For: $7,800

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