Native American, Pacific Northwest/Alaska, ca. 19th century CE. A miniature caribou bone anthropomorphic shaman figure, with deeply drilled eyes that form the focus of the figure. Its limbs, torso, and head are rounded and smoothed. On its lower back is a relief face that appears to be a frog. The frog is a creature of great importance in the Pacific Northwest, reversed for his ability to traverse the natural and supernatural worlds; they are the spirit helpers of shamans and it makes sense that a frog would be associated with this small shaman figure. Size: 0.95" W x 2.45" H (2.4 cm x 6.2 cm); 4.2" H (10.7 cm) on included custom stand.
For thousands of years and across the thousands of miles that encompass the Arctic world, people have carved miniatures from bone, antler, and ivory. Many seem to have been used as toggles, amulets, or charms, while, in the past, many also seem to have had shamanic power. In indigenous Arctic cosmology, all living beings have a "tarniq" or a "tarninga" which means a shade or image that is, literally, a tiny human or tiny animal with the same appearance. This is comparable to the Western idea of a soul. If the living being was somehow separated from his or her tarniq, they would fall ill, and, without shamanic intervention, ultimately die. This concept of a miniature representing a soul seems intimately linked with the practice of creating miniatures.
Provenance: private Newport Beach, California, USA collection
All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.
A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.
We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
Bottoms of legs are lost. Rich, creamy patina on surface with dark color in the lower profile areas, especially on the face.