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Walrus figurine
434-65
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

A unique example of the traditional art of the Chukchi.

History of the Object
Miniature animal figures were typical of the traditional art of the Chukchi, Koryak and Eskimo peoples who inhabited the extreme North-East of Siberia. Most often, such figures depicted walruses, seals and birds. Sometimes, they depicted polar bears, foxes, deer, dogs and wolves. The collector described these statuettes as children’s toys. However, children did not play with them as a modern child would. Miniature figures were kept in special leather cases and were taken out only occasionally when the old folk were telling fairy-tales and legends, so that the children could take a good look at the animal images. The material used to make such statuettes (walrus tusk) points to the ancient origin of such objects, which, undoubtedly, were of ritual character. The material correlates these statuettes with the mythical image of a female mother-walrus, the ancestor of all animals and people. Thus, such statuettes in the traditional culture of the peoples of the extreme North-East of Siberia were associated with the sphere of rituals, and helped introduce children to the ideological values of the society.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
walrus tusk 
Measurements
Width 1.7 cm Length 4.7 cm  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Anadyr Region, North-East Siberia 
Geography
Russia 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century 
Function
Decorative 
Acquisition
This walrus figurine was given to the Museum by Nikolai Gondatti, governor-general of Anadyr region, in 1898 among numerous other objects that he acquired from the Chukchi people. 
Copyright
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) RAS 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Russian Federation 
Museum
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) Russian Academy of Sciences 
Credit line
 

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