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Eskimo Seal Hunter Doll by Siberian Yupik Eskimo Stephanie Oittilliah


Availability: In stock


by Stephanie Oittilliah of St. Lawrence Island, North Bering Sea

Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft. It was carved and significantly transformed from fur seal and walrus ivory into Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft and signed by Alaska Native Eskimo artist Stephanie Oittilliah.

This beautiful Alaskan Eskimo Yup'ik Seal Hunter doll was hand made by Stephanie Oittilliah of Gambell, Alaska, a small Siberian Yup'ik Eskimo village of about 700 people on St. Lawrence Island, just south of the Bering Straits. It's about 140 miles off shore from Nome Alaska, and about 40 miles from Russia. Their native Siberian Yup'ik language is spoken on both the U.S. and Russian sides of the straits. On a clear day (which is rare) you can see the mountains of Siberia.

Stephanie has crafted hand made Eskimo dolls for many years and is a master Yup'ik doll maker, an old tradition on the island. She learned her craft from he Grandmother Beulah. Each doll is unique and one of a kind. Doll making and carving are a rich tradition on St. Lawrence Island, it helps sustain their ancient proud culture and way of life in a very remote and harsh area. The dolls have maintained their uniqueness because of the isolated nature of the island.

This beautiful handmade Seal Hunter was made from a wide variety of native materials. The face, hands. ulu and the spear points are ivory from the tusk of a walrus. The point of the spear was designed to detach in an animal and it was tied with seal gut sinew through the hole in the point to a seal float bag on the back of a kayak. The eyes, spear shaft and paddle are baleen, a fibrous material in the mouth of Bowhead Whales, they strain food through it. The traditional Spring raincoat parka is Spotted Fur Seal gut. The hood portion of the parka is trimmed with Sea Otter fur. The backpack is and mukluks are tanned seal skin. The doll is mounted on an Oozeva, which is a backbone disk from a bowhead whale, equivalent to our backbone disk. Traditionally these were carved into dishes, seal oil lamps and spirit masks. He is proudly returning home with a seal.

"Unangniighta" or seal hunter in the Siberian Yup'ik language. Seal hunting was generally a year around activity for the Yupik people. The walrus skin "Quyaq", or kayak, was the traditional near shore boat for hunting seals. The Yup'ik hunter would glide silently up to a "U.ttug" or "seal basking on the ice". The point of the spear would be embedded in the seal and attached to the float bag made from seal skin. The story behind the doll is about the abundance of the land and sea to provide for food, clothing and shelter. The Siberian Yup'ik people have lived in the Bering Straits for thousands of years. This harsh Arctic region is an extremely challenging area to live in, yet there is an abundance to be had from the land and sea. Hunting and gathering was the basis of survival and their culture and continues today. The times of the year offer a variety of hunting. Polar bears in the winter, whales and walrus in the spring and fall, and seals year around.

The doll measures 8 1/2 inches high, it's about 4 inches wide at the hands. Stephanie's traditional way of signing her signature with a black marker is on the side. This unique handcrafted doll is a real beauty.

This unique handcrafted Eskimo doll is one of a kind and would make a very unusual gift. It would be a wonderful addition to a collection and the subject of much conversation.

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