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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Pitseolak Ashoona, O.C., R.C.A.



stonecut, signed, dated and numbered 33/50

sight 22.5 x 22.5 in — 57.2 x 57.2 cm

Private Collection, Alberta

This simple yet powerful image of an Inuit woman illustrates the artist and printmaker’s attention to detail and artistry. There is a sense of movement evident in what would otherwise be a static portrait. This sense is facilitated not only by the tilt of the woman’s head but by the intersecting lines of the voluminous parka, facial tattoos and features.

Pitseolak describes the tradition of facial tattoos, “Many of the woman had tattoo marks on their faces and my mother had them, too. They used to do it with a needle and caribou thread soaked in oil and soot from the kudlik - the seal oil lamp. They used to pull the thread through the skin and the skin would be swollen for many days.”

Inuit Women Artists, Voices from Cape Dorset, Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1994, pg. 51.

Pitseolak “later identified the woman in this image as her mother; Tattooed Woman can be viewed as an homage both to her mother and to Inuit women of earlier generations.”

“As one of her earliest prints, made from a graphite line drawing and not yet indicative of this lively character for which she would later be recognized, this elegant image is nonetheless one of Pitseolak’s best known and has become an icon of Canadian art.”

Christine Lalonde, Pitseolak Ashoona: Life & Work, Art Canada Institute, May 2015, ebook, pgs. 19 & 20.

Estimate: $3,000—5,000

Auction Results

Auction Date Auction House Lot # Low Est High Est Sold Price
2023-06-29 Waddington's 108 3,000 5,000 4,182.00

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