Walrus figurine. The Chukchee.

Walrus figurine
Collection MAE RAS: № 434-65b
Image ID: 3950683
Walrus figurine
The Chukchee
Chukotka autonomous area (okrug), Anadyr territory (kray)
North Asia. Siberia, North-Eat Siberia
19th cent.
walrus tusk
Gondatti Nikolai Lvovich, Governor-General of Amur Region
This walrus figurine is made of walrus tusk. It 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. 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 use to 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.