Recently, David, who lives in Canada, featured an Inuit carving on his blog. In his comments, I mentioned that we had one, and he asked me if I would take a photograph and show it here.
The Inuit carving we have was purchased years ago in Toronto with helpful advice from my Canadian SiL. Carved out of Steatite (soapstone) it is heavy, sculptural, tactile, and smooth to the touch - a piece of work that we have always admired.
According to David, Inuit artists have gained international recognition in recent years, and their work is in high demand.
The base of our carving shows an authentication igloo label certified by the Canadian Government along with signed symbolic characters called syllabics, which represent the Inuit people's traditional written language, Inuktitut "ᓯᐃᓇᔨ". I am not sure what the numbers 0383 indicate. I used a Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics transliteration system which came up with Siinaji in Latin!
I particularly like the way that the striations and inclusions within the soapstone offers up a different appearance to each side.
"Carving has always been an essential part of the hunting culture of Canadian Inuits. With only natural resources such as stone, occasional pieces of driftwood, ivory and bone with which to make efficient hunting tools, Inuits, of necessity, became very accomplished carvers." Roger Duhamel
You have an exceptionally fine piece, Rosemary. I hope that it occupies a prominent location in your house so that all who visit may enjoy it. Thanks so much for showing it to us on your blog. I am quite envious, I will have you know!ReplyDelete
Glad that you enjoyed seeing it David and that you liked it. It actually sits on a shelf which has several artifacts all from Canada collected over the years. However, the soapstone takes centre stage. We have several Inuit carved wooden animals - a bear, a loon, and a Moose made out of cedar. There is also a seal but that is made from recycled aluminum alloy by the Hoselton Studio in Colborne, nr. Prince Edward Island.Delete
Hi Rosemary: There is a gallery in Stratford, ON that specializes in Inuit art, and I have dealt with them in the past, and based on a thorough examination of their website, and the authentication marks on your piece, I believe I can give you an estimate of its current value if you wish. You could either email me so that I can respond, or I can tell you via a comment which you could immediately delete. Or perhaps you are happy to simply enjoy the piece without caring about its monetary worth!Delete
Hi David - I must admit that I had not given any thought to its value. I seem to remember that at the time it was purchased was was quite expensive. However, if you are happy to do that then of course it would be interesting to know. I have comments moderation on, so I can delete your reply - thank you.Delete
15 minutes ago, I had been reading about the Alaskan-born Ada Blackjack (1898-1983) who was an indigenous Inuit. Because she was going to be sent to a Siberian island for 2 years, it was important to note that the Inuits were a hunting people, eating fish, walrus, seals, whales, caribou and bears.ReplyDelete
But I knew nothing about Inuit carvings nor the role that carving played in the hunting culture of Canadian Eskimos. The soapstone you are showing is heavy, smooth and wonderful to examine. Even better to touch, I would imagine.
Ada Blackjack - a brave female Robinson Crusoe in the Arctic.
That is quite extraordinary that we should both be writing about something connected to the Inuits at the same time. I will pop over and take a look at your post as soon as possible - thank you.Delete
May I point out, with great respect, that the tern "Eskimo" is considered highly offensive to the Inuit people, and is not in current usage. The Edmonton Eskimos football team changed their name to remove this pejorative term, and there have been many other instances where this inflammatory word has been discontinued.ReplyDelete
All trace of the offensive word has now been removed David - thank you for letting me know.Delete
What a lovely sculpture by an Inuit artist! Thanks for sharing it.ReplyDelete
Pleased that you enjoyed seeing it Barbara.Delete
Both a whale and a seabird! I assume the number is a cataloguing number related to the artist's output. Canadian Inuit art is indeed magnificent! The Winnipeg Art Gallery recently built a special museum to house its collection of Inuit art, which is the largest public collection in the world:ReplyDelete
The Winnipeg Art Gallery was able to amass its huge collection over the decades by its association with the Hudson's Bay Company, whose national HQ is in Winnipeg. Historically, the Hudson's Bay Company was/is the dominant corporate presence in the Canadian Arctic and is the reason that Inuit carving and art first came to market.
I did read that the Hudson Bay Company were the first to recognise and market Inuit's carvings. Apparently you do need to take care when purchasing one, and that is definitely preferable to buy one that has an igloo authentication label attached.Delete
Oh yes, there's a lot of fake stuff out there!Delete
Hello Rosemary, Your Inuit carving is exceptional. It shows the sensitivity of an artist who understood the connections of the natural world--both the animal and the mineral. It looks large--can you give us an approximate size?ReplyDelete
Hello Jim - I think it might appear larger than it actually is on my photos. Its roughly 15.24cms x 7.62cms. The first photo is very slightly smaller than lifesize.Delete
You have a beautiful soapstone carving. I love the smooth cool touch of soapstone.ReplyDelete
We love it very much.Delete
That is a beautiful work.ReplyDelete
The Inuit's as you know are very skilled carvers.Delete
What a gorgeous carving.ReplyDelete
That's a lovely carving and somehow feels both very ancient and remarkably modern at the same time. I possess one very small wooden Northern Diver or Loon carving which may be from Canada, though I doubt it's of any value, costing me £1 from an Oxfam shop!ReplyDelete
I also have some wooden Inuit carvings - they usually tend to carve them out of cedarwood. You may have got a bargain courtesy of the Oxfam shop but it is a good idea to always check the bottom of them - so keep your eyes open and keep looking.Delete
Dear Rosemary - I instantly want to touch that little sculpture - it looks so smooth - what we call a "Handschmeichler" (hand-flatterer, I do not mean the esoteric worry-stone). Am I wrong: do I see a flip-flop picture? I see a little bird - but also a fish, as in Japanese art. Very, very beautiful!ReplyDelete
Dear Britta - you see correctly, it is a sculpture that cleverly combines a fish and a bird both of which are connected with the Inuits hunting life.Delete
Something about the neck pose and the black body reminds me strongly of an eider duck but it may also be another arctic seabird species I'm not familiar with.ReplyDelete
I am not sure which bird or fish are actually represent. Someone has suggested a whale for the fish. But I think that you could be right as the do have Common Eider ducks in Canada especially in Alaska and the arctic islands. I will call it an Eider duck from now on.Delete
Your Inuit carving is just beautiful, Rosemary. The soapstone is so tactile, and I have admired these carvings on our many trips to Canada. Alas, I have never actually bought one, although I have come close, and now we have been prevented from going for several years at least. Next time - it will be top of the list! Thank you for sharing your sculpture.ReplyDelete
Dear Patricia - if you do decide to buy one when you eventually travel back to Canada do take notice of the underside, especially in relation to the igloo label, which is your guarantee of authenticity. There are fake so called carvings around that are not even made of stone but from composite materials. They are not necessarily made in Canada either.Delete
Dear Rosemary, I knowq nothing about the Inuit culture. However, that does not stop me from admiring this beautiful carving. I also see a bird and a fish.ReplyDelete
Dear Gina - with help from bloggers I think that the bird is an Eider duck, and the fish a whale. It is clever the way that the Inuit carver has combined the two.Delete
Even in the north where materials are difficult to find artistic expression finds a way.ReplyDelete
The history of art began with our evolution, and you are right wherever we are we will always find a way to express ourselves artistically.Delete
That is a beautiful Eskimo Inuit carving.
Our adopted daughter is also a first nation daughter, a Nisga'a from British Columbia and her late uncle Dr. Frank Calder is well known for The Calder Case.
Both of us did visit the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto to see some of the Nisga'a art.
You no doubt have fond memories connected with this piece of art.
PS more you can read here: http://www.nisgaanation.ca/news/honouring-our-past-dr-frank-calder
Dear Mariette - thank you for telling me about your adopted daughter - what a very interesting background she has and comes from. I have always found the Northwest Coast Nisga’a Art really striking and very attractive to the eye.Delete
🤗 The Nisga'a are the Killer Whale 🐋Delete
What a beautiful thing you have there, Rosemary! The fish end even looks a bit like the stylised Greco-Roman dolphin with his round forehead and big eye.ReplyDelete
I wonder now if that is what is represents Pip? - I can just imagine a chubby little Eros sitting atop.Delete
Dear Rosemary - Your soapstone carving by Inuit is so lovely with simplicity and artistry, I love it. I’m attracted by the distinct culture of indigenous people. In Japan, there are Ainu in northern part Hokkaido, I love their woodcarvings.ReplyDelete
Dear Yoko - I have looked on the internet and was surprised to find that the Ainu people are very similar to the Inuit people. Both being great hunters and fishermen. Also the way that they decorate their clothing and create beautiful carvings of their native animals.Delete
You have a real treasure there.ReplyDelete
Although we have had it for many many years we have always been happy that we purchased it.Delete
How amazing with so few tools artists seem to find a way to express themselves leaving us in awe.ReplyDelete
I find it difficult to understand how the soapstone could have been carved so smoothly with the Inuits homemade tools.Delete