Arctic, Inuit peoples, ca. 1000 to 1700 CE. A hand-carved brown stone kudlik, also known as a qulliq, a traditional oil lamp with a zoomorphic form. A deep, ovoid cavity was made to hold seal oil, which was used as fuel. At one end is an incised seal face with large, circular eyes, a snub nose with shallow-drilled nostrils, and an incised mouth, and on the other end is a pierced strap handle meant for suspension. Lamps like this one were tended by a woman in the family, who would place a cube of blubber into the cavity, pound the blubber to press out its oil, and then create a wick from moss or grass, which was soaked in the oil and arranged to produce light in an upward direction. The burning lamp required constant attention, especially in the enclosed space of the igloo. This was the only source of light and head for the Inuit during the dark winter months. Today these elegant stone objects continue to be used ceremonially. Size: 2.5" W x 1.625" H (6.4 cm x 4.1 cm).
Provenance: private Lexington, Kentucky, USA collection
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Small chips to rim, handle, and body, with fading to finer incised details, otherwise intact and very good. Light earthen deposits throughout.