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Artefact of the day 19/8

August 20, 2012

The artefact of the day was found by Charlotta in the floor deposits of the northern house with the grand boardwalk. It is a sad faced doll. A circle carved approximately where her belly would be made us think she might be expecting. From a certain angle you can even se a pair of eyes looking at you from the circle. The doll was firmly cemented into the permafrost, so Rick took over the task of defrosting her while Charlotta continued to remove melted house floor from the square. When the permafrost let go of the doll we saw that it had three faces, one on each side – sad face, wicked face and skewed face. The fourth side had a slot for mounting something to it. We think it might be a drum handle, and the weird faces would be connected to some ceremonial meaning. It is not unusual with dolls with two faces, a sad face on one side and a happy face on the other. It is connected to the Yup’ik belief in balance – the two halves of everything. According to ethnographic records the sad face represents women, and the happy face men (even though some feministic elements in the crew chose to doubt the accounts of male 19th century ethnographers). This would be consistent with our sad faced doll being pregnant. Dolls were made for different reasons; some ceremonial, some shamanic and some for playing. Faces you can find on almost everything, from labrets to bag seals (as you have seen), as well as on every other stick. Two faced dolls are quite common. This is the first three faced one found.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Scott Timpany permalink
    August 20, 2012 19:49

    Well done Tottie!! Nice find that :)/:(

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