Fish or whale ornament
The underside of the body of this fish or whale image is plain and slightly concave, with two pairs of holes forming attachment points for thongs. They do not seem sufficiently robust to withstand heavy pressure, so the piece probably served an ornamental rather than a directly practical function. The tail, more fish-like than whale-like, is carved in the round and may have projected from the object to which the fish was originally attached. ‘Punuk’ has been written in pencil beneath the head by a previous owner.
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. 233.
Purchased by the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia from Arbutus Limited on the advice of Robert Sainsbury in 1980 out of income from the Sainsbury Purchasing Fund.
Not on display
Title/Description: Fish or whale ornament
Object Type: Ornament
Materials: Walrus ivory
Measurements: l. 111 mm
Accession Number: 735
Historic Period: Punuk (c. AD 500-1200)
Credit Line: Purchased with support from Robert and Lisa Sainsbury, 1980