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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Josiah Nuilaalik



stone, antler, signed in syllabics, circa 1990, Overall very good condition.

Please contact the specialist for further condition information.

5.25 x 5.25 x 3.5 in — 12.7 x 13.3 x 8.9 cm

Born into a family of recognized artists, Josiah Nuilaalik, son of Jessie Oonark, created an important and highly distinctive body of work late in his life. [1] Nuilaalik’s sculptures explore images of the spirit world and of transformation. While to our eye, far from naturalistic in their anatomy, his figures convey their weight and a sense of stilled movement with an exceptional clarity.

Although Nuilaalik is sometimes quoted as having said that he had not encountered the spirit images which he represented, this admission has been qualified by Harold Seidelman, once a patron of Nuilaalik’s, and author of The Inuit Imagination: Arctic Myth and Sculpture. Seidelman explains that Nuilaalik was very clear when asked where his images came from. In one instance Seidelman queried if an image of a serpent with a man’s head carved by Nuilaalik was a Biblical reference, “No!” replied Nuilaalik “This is real!”. [2]

In this exceptional example of the artist's work Transforming Spirit, a wild figure, its mouth agape revealing sharp incisors, leans forward in the company of a winged companion–perhaps an attendant spirit, or harassing foe.


1. Inuit Modern, The Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection, Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 2011. p. 37.

2. Seidelman, Harold, personal correspondence with the author February 17, 2022.

Estimate: $4,000—6,000

Auction Results

Auction Date Auction House Lot # Low Est High Est Sold Price
2022-03-17 Waddington's 13 4,000 6,000 3,840.00

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