This miniature carving is an example of the visual punning of which Alaskan Inuit artists were particularly fond (see Nelson, 1899: 61; Fitzhugh and Kaplan, 1982: fig. 56). One view reveals a female head with hair parted and typical chin tattoos; turned over, the neck becomes the shoulders and head of a wolf- like creature. The neck is grooved for binding. Nelson collected a related example of a head/bird from Cape Vancouver (Collins et al., 1973: fig. 94).
Steven Hooper, 1997
Entry taken from Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, Vol. 2: Pacific, African and Native North American Art, edited by Steven Hooper (Yale University Press, 1997) p. 255.
Purchased by Robert and Lisa Sainsbury from K. J. Hewett in 1972.
Donated to the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia in 1973 as part of the original gift.
Title/Description: Miniature head
Born: 1800 - 1899
Materials: Walrus ivory
Measurements: h. 29 x w. 13 x d. 15 mm
Accession Number: 117
Historic Period: 19th century
Production Place: Alaska, North America, The Americas
Credit Line: Donated by Robert and Lisa Sainsbury, 1973