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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Kiugak (Kiawak) Ashoona O.C., R.C.A.



stone, signed in syllabics, disc number inscribed, circa 1965, Condition very good.

Please contact the specialist for further condition information.

10 x 20 x 8 in — 25.4 x 53.3 x 20.3 cm

Paul Duval, Toronto, ON;
Estate of Neil Kernaghan, Toronto, ON;
Waddington's, Toronto, ON, Nov 2013, Lot 88;
Private Collection, British Columbia

Kiawak Ashoona was perhaps at the height of his creative powers when he carved this bear. The body, only subtly abstracted, perfectly captures the massive volume of these creatures. Ashoona preferred to begin his pieces by first carving the heads of his figures, which often resulted in the intense and refined facial expressions so strongly exemplified here.[1.] The figure is set off by individually-carved ivory lower incisors, and by Ashoona’s masterful use of differing bands of colour which are naturally found in the stone from which he sometimes carved.

Unsurprisingly, this sculpture caught the attention of George Swinton when he chose to document it in his superlative 1972 publication Sculpture of the Eskimo. Also unsurprisingly— with its sensitive use of colour and evocation of the natural world, its first documented owner was Paul Duval, the seminal Canadian art critic and longtime friend and early champion of the Group of Seven Painter Lawren Harris.


Swinton, George. Sculpture of the Eskimo. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Ltd. 1972. p. 185, pl. 453


Katilvik. “Kiawak Ashoona”, accessed October 31, 2021,

Estimate: $3,000—5,000

Auction Results

Auction Date Auction House Lot # Low Est High Est Sold Price
2021-12-09 Waddington's 94 3,000 5,000 16,980.00

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