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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Manasie Akpaliapik, ᒪᓇᓯ ᐊᐸᓕᐊᐱ



whalebone, stone, catlinite, antler, signed in syllabics, ca. 1995, Natural imperfections inherent in material, overall very good condition.

Please contact the specialist for further condition information.

39 x 36.5 x 14.5 in — 99.1 x 92.7 x 36.8 cm

Acquired directly from the artist, ca. 2000

We are pleased to present six exceptional works by Manasie Akpaliapik in this auction. Purchased directly from the artist in the mid-late 1990s, each represents a significant element of the artist’s practice, exemplifying the fertility of imagination and astounding range of technical skill for which he has become known.

An important work by Manasie, Two Headed Caribou Women is an achievement by the artist on a monumental scale. A sculpture of remarkable detail and sensitivity to material, it was made in a period associated with some of Manasie’s most exceptionally inventive and finely carved works. Almost a decade after the tragic death of his wife and two children, Manasie embarked on a trip to Arctic Bay in 1989 to learn drum dancing, kayak making, and collect stories told by community elders. [1] In the years following, Manasie produced many of his best-known works. Alive with visions of interconnectedness and continuity, in the 1990s Manasie’s sculptural insights have, in the words of George Swinton, made “Manasie the contemporary Inuit artist par excellence.” [2]

Studded with images inspired by Inuit ceremony and tradition, the sculpture bears strong thematic and compositional similarities to a more modestly proportioned sculpture, titled Respecting the Circle (20.5 inches high, 28 inches wide, by 16 inches deep) exhibited in the landmark 1990 Winnipeg Art Gallery exhibition of the artist’s work, and later gifted to the Art Gallery of Ontario by Samuel and Esther Sarick. [2] Both sculptures are carved from a portion of a whale’s skull and are composed around the foramen magnum (the opening where the spine enters the skull).

As in Respecting the Circle, each nook and outcropping in Two Headed Caribou Women offers a multiplicity of images and vantage points, however, whereas in the former sculpture the two central human faces appear divided by an owl and contorted in inexplicable agony, in the present sculpture the figures appear with a mutual body, engaged in iqiruktuk (mouth-pull), a traditional game of strength and a shared feat of endurance.

(1) Claire Keating, “Inuit Master Works By Manasie Akpaliapik,” Claire Keating Authorised Representative, pamphlet, 1999.
(2) George Swinton, “The Art of Manasie Akpaliapik: A Review Essay,” Inuit Art Quarterly. Spring 1991, vol. 6 no. 2. p. 42-45
(3) Kendall Blanchard, The Anthropology of Sport, An Introduction, (Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995), 149.

Related Works:
Art Gallery of Ontario, Col. No. 96/1294. Click here to read more

Many countries prohibit or restrict importation or exportation of property containing ivory, whale bone, sealskin, and/or products derived from other endangered or protected species, and require special licenses or permits in order to import or export such property. It is the responsibility of the buyer to ensure that the item is properly and lawfully exported / imported. Please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialists for further details.

Estimate: $40,000—60,000

Auction Results

Auction Date Auction House Lot # Low Est High Est Sold Price
2022-06-09 Waddington's 85 40,000 60,000 36,003.00

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