Barnabus Arnasungaaq

Canadian, b. 1924

Shaman with Snake Helping Spirit, 1970

caribou antler, black colouring

24.1 x 13.7 x 4.4 cm

Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of Faye and Bert Settler



Sculpture, Inuit

Sculpture by Barnabus Arnasungaaq was first shown publicly in the 1964 WAG exhibition Eskimo Carvers of the Keewatin, N.W.T. He has become known for his animals and human figures carved from hard black stone. The muskox has been a particular favourite, and two of his monumental “gentle giants,” male and female, are in the WAG’s Jerry Twomey Collection. This antler carving is a surprising anomaly in the artist’s oeuvre, and its subject matter is unusual for Inuit artists. An inscription penciled on the base explains: “This angakkuq (shaman) uses a snake as his helping spirit.” In many shamanic cultures the snake is a magical animal that can reveal the future as it is believed to be a receptacle for the souls of the dead.

Sign up for e-news

Gallery Hours

  • Tuesday 11am-5pm
  • Wednesday 11am-5pm
  • Thursday 11am-5pm
  • Friday 11am-9pm
  • Saturday 11am-5pm
  • Sunday 11am-5pm
  • Closed Monday

Holiday Hours


WAG Social Media

Share This

This should be hidden