The Winged Object functioned as a counterweight for a harpoon used to hunt seals and walruses. The thin, weblike tracery of engraved designs and the animal head carved in rounded relief were intended to please the inua or spirit of the hunted quarry. The Okvik were early Arctic ancestors of the Eskimo; they inhabited villages on both the North American and Asian sides of the Bering Straits as well as the several islands in between.
Artist Eskimo, Native American
Artist Okvik, Native American
  • Winged Object
Date ca. 300
Medium walrus ivory, patina
Dimensions Overall: 7 3/8 inches (18.7 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Peter W. Stroh and the Stroh Brewery Foundation Fund
Accession Number 1983.7
Department Africa, Oceania & Indigenous Americas
On View Native American S130, Level 1 (see map)
1982, excavated by Eskimos from a specific site owned by the Floyd Wogitillan family at the old village of Kukulik (Kukulik site, Saint Lawrence Island, Alaska, USA);
purchased by (Ron Nasser, HRN Primitives, New York, New York, USA);
1983-present, purchased by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Bulletin of the DIA 61, 3 (1982-1983): p. 10 (ill.).

100 Masterworks from the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1985, pp. 78-79 (ill.).

Penney, David W. and George C. Longfish. Native American Art. Southport, CT, 1994, p. 246.