Inuit and Yupik ("Eskimo") Transformation Art

In 2003, a few weeks after identifying the characteristic and recurring bird-human themes in artifact material at 33GU218 in Ohio, this author came upon the traditional Inuit/Yupik "transformation art" on the Internet.  It was noted with much surprise that this displays essentially the same apparently shamanistic themes, albeit in a much more virtuosic presentation.  Some cultural affiliation, however remote, seems unmistakable.  Shown below are Inuit/Yupik works in specific common motifs, along with lithic artifacts from the 33GU218 site incorporating the same thematic iconography.  Crude as it is in the stones, it is quite recognizable.  This should probably come as no surprise, given that similar shamanic-like imagery is very much evident in 20,000+ years BP Pleistocene artifacts of northeastern Asia (e.g. Siberia - see Early Art of the Northern Far East: The Stone Age by Russian archaeologist M. A. Kiriyak), Siberia being the presumed earlier residence and departure point of  most of the earliest migrants to North America.

__________ Bird or Other Creature Emerging from Mouth __________



____________________ Bird over Forehead ____________________



__________ Bird or Other Creature Emerging from Belly __________

Yupik Mask by Phillip John Charette



____________ One Eye Open, One Eye Closed ____________

   Limestone Figure - One Eye Open, One Eye Shut - Day's Knob Archaeological Site

Click HERE for more examples.

______________ Bird on Top of Bird (or whomever) ______________


                       By Osuitok Ipeelee                          At 33GU218

(Artist unknown)

_______ Two-Faced (Janus-like) Figure - Human/Animal _______

  Limestone Bird-Human Figure - Day's Knob Archaeological Site

                         By Toonoo Sharky                                   At 33GU218

(Click for more two-faced (janiform) figures at the Day's Knob Site and elsewhere.)

_________________________  _________________________


Modern Inuit sculpture by Uriash Puqiqnak.

Note the bird over the figure's forehead.

Modern Inuit sculpture by Tukiki Manome.  Note the two faces looking in opposite directions, a constantly recurring motif in the stone figures at Day's Knob (33GU218).

So far, one conspicuous theme in the Day's Knob assemblage that has not (to this author, anyway) shown itself explicitly in Inuit/Yupik "transformation art" is that of one creature emerging egg-like from the posterior of another.  This is a bit surprising given its prominence in much earlier "old world" lithic artifact material exhibiting the same motifs.

Top of Page

Click your browser's "Back" button to return to the point from which you entered this page.