Native American, St. Lawrence Island, Alaska (Bering Strait), Thule culture, ca. 1200 to 1700 CE. An incredibly rare hand-carved wooden effigy figure, long preserved in frozen tundra. The figure is anthropomorphic and simple, with its main features being its elongated ovoid head, its dramatically-defined shoulders, and its tapering body that stands on a low platform foot. The figure may once have had more decorative elements, but they have been lost to time. Size: 2.45" W x 8.95" H (6.2 cm x 22.7 cm); 10.45" H (26.5 cm) on included custom stand.
The Thule people were the ancestors of modern Inuit whose advanced culture and technology made them a part of the global economy during what we in the west call the medieval period. This figure was carved during a dynamic time in Thule history; recent research indicates that sometime after ca. 1200 CE, perhaps in a span of just a few years, the Thule people spread from their Bering Strait homeland all the way to Greenland, likely driven by the search for iron, both from meteoric deposits they may have heard about from the Dorset people to their east and from trade. They traded with the Chinese to their west - metal beads and a belt buckle of Chinese manufacture and dating to 1100 to 1300 CE have been found in in the Seward Peninsula - and interacted with the Vikings to their east, who describe them in the Vinland Saga as the Skraelings.
Provenance: private Newport Beach, California, USA Collection
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