Syllabic Translator

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



whale bone, bone, ivory, baleen, signed in syllabics, ca. 1970, Loss of foot—documented in 1977 Winnipeg Art Gallery publication, expert replacement of diminutive hand. Remnant of adhesive tape on backside of figure, stable imperfections inherent to material. Overall very good condition.

Please contact the specialist for further condition information.

7.5 x 11 x 9 in — 19.1 x 27.9 x 22.9 cm

Dr. and Mrs. G.P. Jones, St. John's, NL;
Private collection, Canada

Karoo Ashevak, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba, March 30-June 5, 1977

Jean Blodgett, Karoo Ashevak: Winnipeg Art Gallery, March 30 to June 5, 1977, Winnipeg: Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1977. pl. 29

Striking in its asymmetry and its defiance of human proportions, this charming and somewhat mischievous-looking sculpture of a shaman by Karoo Ashevak dates circa 1970. A marvellous example of the artist’s predilection for spiritual and otherworldly beings as subject matter, it was exhibited in the 1977 retrospective of the artist’s work, held at the Winnipeg Gallery of Art.

A transforming figure looks up at the viewer with an outsized and protruding eye housed in a contorted face. The features are evocative of the gnarled visages of dream-inspired masks used in both secular dance and shamanic ritual throughout the Arctic. [1] Anchored by a large hand, the figure’s corresponding appendage is diminutive and mittened—the disparity in size suggesting a magical air. The presence of the mitten may allude to the often-covered hands of the shaman during dancing, or the necessity of covered hands during certain acts of divining. [2]

With his noted sensitivity to material, Ashevak’s composition is emphasised by the pitted, fissured, and porous whalebone, which, as elsewhere in Ashavak’s work, hints at the immaterial character of the shaman’s domain. [3]

(1) Dorothy Jean-Ray, Eskimo Masks: Art and Ceremony. (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Ltd., 1967), 30.
(2) Jean Blodgett, Karoo Ashevak. (Winnipeg: The Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1977)
(3) Blodgett

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Estimate: $20,000—30,000

Auction Results

Auction Date Auction House Lot # Low Est High Est Sold Price
2022-06-09 Waddington's 103 20,000 30,000 28,800.00
2013-05-06 Waddington's 123A 25,000 30,000 28,800.00
2012-11-05 Waddington's 79 6,000 9,000 15,600.00
2010-11-08 Waddington's 345 10,000 15,000 28,800.00
2009-11-09 Waddington's 248 8,000 12,000 9,600.00
2009-11-09 Waddington's 246 20,000 30,000 33,600.00
2009-11-09 Waddington's 245a 30,000 40,000 38,400.00

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