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Ivory Implement For Bodkin

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

FROM CARD: "ILLUS. IN BAE 18TH AR, PT. 1; PL. XLV-13; P. 108. ALSO IN USNM REPT, 1895; PL. 32, FIG. 7; P. 804. 1/83 SITES INUA LOAN. LOAN: U.S.I.A. INUA JUN 24 1988. ILLUS.: INUA CATALOGUE. USIA 1988, PL.17, P.17. LOAN RETURNED DEC 28 1990." USIA Inua catalogue identifies as: "Bag fastener. Depiction of men smiling and women frowning characterize the art of this region. On one side of this piece we see the frowning female with her tattooed chin. On the other side is the smiling male with his labret holes. This piece has two other important symbolic representations. One is the circle and dot motif on the backs of the seals, which represents the heavens and the all seeing eye. The other is the transformation of the tails of the seals into human hands reaching out and encompassing the piece, symbolizing the close association between humans and animals."

FROM 19TH OR EARLY 20TH CENTURY EXHIBIT LABEL WITH CARD: "WORK-BAG FASTENER.---MADE OF A THIN FLAT STRIP OF WALRUS IVORY ORNAMENTED IN THE CENTER BY A CARVED FIGURE OF A HUMAN FACE, ON EITHER SIDE OF WHICH IS A SEAL. ON THE LOWER BORDER IS A SERIES OF SHORT LINES CROSSING EACH OTHER. A SMALL HOLE IS PIERCED THROUGH THE IVORY TO RECEIVE THE STRING USED IN TYING UP THE WORK-BAG. LENGTH, 6 3/4 INCHES; WIDTH, 1 INCH. ESKIMO OF CHALITMUT, ALASKA. 37,319. COLLECTED BY E. W. NELSON."

Ivory bag fastener made of a thin, flat strip of walrus ivory ornamented in the center with a carved figure of a human face, on either side of which is a seal. Depiction of men smiling and women frowning characterize the art of this region. On one side of this piece we see the frowning female with her tattooed chin. On the other side is the smiling male with his labret holes. This piece has two other important symbolic representations. One is the circle and dot motif on the backs of the seals, which represents the heavens and the all seeing eye. The other is the transformation of the tails of the seals into human hands reaching out and encompassing the piece, symbolizing the close association between humans and animals.
From transcript of consultations held in conjunction with "Yuungnaqpiallerput (The Way We Genuinely Live)" exhibit, April 17-18, 2010: "The husband would carve one of these for the wife. Or you could commission a good carver to make you one of these and they would carve according to your emblems, your family designs, your abilities."

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Details

  • Title: Ivory Implement For Bodkin
  • Location: Chalitmut, Yukon & Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska, United States, North America
  • Physical Dimensions: L: 17.14cm, 17cm W: 3cm
  • Type: Bag Fastener
  • Rights: This image was obtained from the Smithsonian Institution. The image or its contents may be protected by international copyright laws. http://www.si.edu/termsofuse
  • External Link: View this object record in the Smithsonian Institution Collections Search Center
  • Medium: Ivory
  • USNM Catalog Number(s): E37319
  • Photo Credit: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
  • Field: Ethnology
  • Accession Date: 1879

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