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Published onSep 15, 2022

Shaman, 1999

Leo Uttaq (Inuit, b. 1964)


Gift of John L. and Ethel Margaret Gillmor Bohan. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.



Figures of animals, Inuit communities, and religious traditions were often carved from local serpentine stone by Inuit artists. Serpentine can vary widely in color, from deep black to a jade green. Often, Inuit carvings illustrate traditional beliefs and stories about the spiritual world. In this carving of a shaman, the body is distorted, possibly in the act of transformation. The ability to transform the body illustrates the power of the individual in the eyes of the Inuit community. Reflect on other spiritual leaders and how they transform themselves or their bodies for ritual or ceremony?

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