Shaman Seal Communication by Jerome Saclamanna, Inupiaq
Shaman Seal Communication
Jerome Saclamanna, Inupiaq
Fossil walrus ivory, Mastodon ivory, baleen, feathers
6.5" high x 3.5" wide x 1.5" deep
This carving represent a shaman communicating with a seal. The shaman is no longer in human form, but has taken the form of his Inua. Inua is a spirit or soul that exists in all people, animals, lakes, mountains, and plants. In the case of this carving, the Inua is personified.
For Arctic people, human and animals are equal. All life has the same kind of soul or "life essence" (inua). This creates a predicament. In order to survive, the people of the Arctic must kill other creatures that are like them. Recognition of this dilemma lies at the centre of hunting practice, which is based upon respect and reciprocity. The hunter will only succeed if the animal chooses to give its life as a gift, in return for respectful behavior on the part of the whole community.
Inupiaq artist Jerome Saclamanna was born in Nome, Alaska on July 20, 1963. His parents were both born and raised on King Island, a small island located about 40 miles (64 km) offshore, south of the village of Wales, Alaska, and about 90 miles northwest of Nome.
“I started making my artwork from my dad and uncles carving when I was young. They would hand me a piece of ivory and show me how to make a seal. I would get a file and motor tools and they would show me which way to cut and file. I would watch and imagine the shape of the seals that we hunt and catch. Then in high school, I took an art culture class. There was a teacher who taught carving. I started making artwork because of my dad at home, I would watch him carve and after a certain amount of time he would hand me a piece. I started on things that were simple then I started on making masks, half man-seal shaman.”
“My artwork holds a special meaning to me, my two or three pieces, mask shaman for instance, I would have a piece of ivory. I would sit with a pencil and come up with a half man half whale, something that is not so simple. I want them to be special, my own design and style. I primarily work with ivory, bone, old whale bone, old ivory mastodon or mammoth, and soapstone I would like to carve. I consider myself a carver rather than an artist I like to carve, after I am done, I try and make it as good as I can. The last couple of years I started getting into larger pieces but I have to buy bigger tools and bigger material so it is difficult to do it all the time.” - Jerome Saclamanna