Karoo Ashevak

Canadian, 1940–1974

Shaman, 1971

whale bone, plastic, stone, sinew

49.8 x 27.4 x 15.5 cm

Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with funds from The Winnipeg Foundation



Sculpture, Inuit

In the early 1970s Karoo Ashevak developed an expressive style of carving, employing aged whale bone as his medium and depicting angakkuit (shamans) and spirits bursting with powerful emotions. His figures have wild, asymmetrical eyes, flaring nostrils, and gaping mouths. These subjects were inspired by the many stories told to Ashevak as a child by his father. The WAG work represents a particular shaman who had a perpetual supply of caribou meat. Round balls representing meat were placed in the mouth and a plug was inserted into a hole at the base of the neck. When the plug is pulled, the five pieces of meat slide down and out the back of the throat, where they are ready to be eaten again the next time the shaman has the desire to eat caribou.

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