Warrior’s figure. The Chukchee.

Warrior’s figure
Collection MAE RAS: № 668-8
Image ID: 3846029
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Title:
Warrior’s figure
Ethnicity:
The Chukchee
Place:
Chukotka autonomous area (okrug)
Location:
North Asia. Siberia, East Siberia, Chukotka
Date:
early 19th c.
Materials:
walrus tusk, natural colorant
Collector:
Litke Fedor Petrovich, mariner, geographer, researcher of the Arctic, Admiral (since 1855), president of the Academy of Sciences (since 1864), Voznesenskii Ilya Gavrilovich, zoologist, entomologist, traveller
Commentation:
This figure of a Chukchi warrior is made of walrus task. It belongs to the early collections of the St. Petersburg Kunstkamera, and dates to the early 19th century. 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 the north-east of Asia and the Russian America, in 1839-1849. 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 the behind, but also served as a sort of a “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.