Featured Carved green soapstone bear - is this mark Inuit?

Discussion in 'Tribal Art' started by Jeff Drum, Aug 21, 2020.

  1. Jeff Drum

    Jeff Drum Well-Known Member

    Mark on foot is indecipherable to me, doesn't look like roman letters or numbers, and the scratch through it makes it look like the mark is original to the piece, and not a price or owner mark added later. Does it mean anything?
    P8202880.JPG P8202886.JPG P8202882.JPG P8202885.JPG P8202884.JPG P8202883.JPG
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  2. evelyb30

    evelyb30 Well-Known Member

    Either EG or EL. Beyond that...dunno.
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  3. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    it could be an inuit bear...but the mark is a later sharpie add on....

    @Mark London
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  4. Bdigger

    Bdigger Well-Known Member

    Wonder if the mark could say ELY.......Just a thought.
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  5. evelyb30

    evelyb30 Well-Known Member

    Certainly a possibility. I think there's an Ely in Minnesota. Dunno about Alaska.
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  6. Mark London

    Mark London Well-Known Member

    I won’t rule out the possibility of this being Inuit but I am inclined to think that it isn’t. The stone is uncommon, the signature is atypical, and frankly the subject just doesn’t look like a polar bear. More like a brown or black bear to my eyes.
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  7. Jeff Drum

    Jeff Drum Well-Known Member

    Good point about not looking like a polar bear, but there are brown and black bear sculptures made by inuit, aren't there? These bears range certainly goes well into alaska. And I do see green soapstone inuit carvings, but maybe you mean the type of green soapstone?

    Anyway, my hope was that the marks were inuit syllabics, but apparently not? (I haven't seen enough of the syllabics to know what I'm seeing - though I do have a couple carving with syllabics on them).
  8. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!


    The eskimo...inuit peoples, live above the tree line.........
    only bear there is Polar.........
    I've never seen an Inuit carver....do a brown or black bear....
    only the white one ...

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  9. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    I don't know the first thing about it but I think it's a very nice bear.
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  10. evelyb30

    evelyb30 Well-Known Member

    The OP's looks more like a black bear or a brown one than a polar bear.
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  11. Jeff Drum

    Jeff Drum Well-Known Member

    Yeah, we're all agreed it is not a polar bear, but still clueless about who made it.

    So I searched for an Inuit carved grizzly bear, and did find a few examples. Not a lot, and clearly *many* more polar bears than not. Similar, in my mind, to how oak secondary wood almost always points to English furniture and not American; but there are the exceptions that prove the rule. And the fact that grizzlies overlap with polar bears in a large part of their habitat means they are at least around (maps here: http://geology.com/stories/13/bear-areas/ and https://image.slidesharecdn.com/peo...peoples-of-the-arctic-4-728.jpg?cb=1222627676. One area is Baker Lake, which being inland seems to have a fair number of grizzlies. That said, I also found more example of grizzlies by native Dene artists, so that may be more likely than Inuit https://ammsa.com/publications/windspeaker/northern-art-mix-dene-and-inuit. Or of course, this may not be native or Canadian at all.

    Thank you for the symbolics. Unfortunately I can't find any way to read the marks as symbolics, so I guess the marks will remain unexplained for now.

    Here's one of the marked examples I found, by Mathew Aqiggaaq, 1981, https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/3328657_7028-hand-carved-inuit-grizzly-bear

    Thanks for all the help, I learned a lot (still clearly have a lot to learn...)
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