VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Warrior’s figure
668-8
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This figure of a warrior in armor is unique, as Chukchi statuettes mostly depict birds, animals and mythical creatures. Often, the Chukchi and the Koryak people made small objects by order of the local Russians or American whalers. Probably, this statuette was ordered by some Europeans who were amazed by the Chukchi armors made of stripes of dressed skin of bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus) that resisted arrow shots. Such armor consisted of a shell that covered the warrior from shoulders to mid-shank, and a wide shield that not only protected the warrior from an attack from behind, but also served as a sort of “sail” that helped gain speed when going on skis. Such armors were used by the Chukchi people until the 19th century. Apart from its historical value, this statuette is also of high artistic value, as it is laconic yet expressive, which proves to the high level of development of the traditional art of the peoples of the extreme north.

History of the Object
This figure of a Chukchi warrior belongs to the early collections of the St. Petersburg Kunstkamera, and dates to the early 19th century.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
walrus tusk, natural colorant 
Measurements
Width 2.9 cm Height 5.0 cm  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Chukotka; East Siberia 
Geography
Russia 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century 
Function
Artistic object made to order. 
Acquisition
Presumably, this figurine, which is typical of the culture of the peoples of the extreme North-East of Asia, was acquired by the Museum as a result of the expedition of Fyodor Litke (1797-1882), a famous Russian sea-farer and geographer, to the coast of the Bering Sea in 1826-1829. Alternatively, it was acquired in the course of the expedition of Ilya Voznesensky (1816-1871), an outstanding Russian explorer of north-east Asia and Russian America in 1839-1849. 
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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