Skip to content

The painted past

April 3, 2019

After cleaning and conservation treatment, the artefacts can be studied in detail – and often reveal many unexpected details of their past.


Often the conservation process that the wooden artifacts undergo brings out unexpected colors as the original pigments emerge. This black and red painted seal figurine was once attached to a mask or a dance stick. 


Thanks to the occasionally well-preserved painted surfaces on artifacts we find at Nunalleq, we are beginning to realize that many, if not all of the wooden artifacts used by pre-contact Yup’ik people were originally brightly colored. This is a point sheath, used to protect the sharp ground slate points on arrows, lances and harpoons.

This wooden doll has an unusual amount of detail suggesting that it was a religious object rather than a toy. The head and body still retains much of its red ocher pigment. If you look closely at the body you’ll see another face which may represent the yua, or spirit within the doll. The reverse side has an interesting design which may also have spiritual significance.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Colleen permalink
    April 3, 2019 11:07

    Sensational Rick.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: