Ethel Washington (Inupiat,1889-1968) Dolls

carved of birch and details executed in India ink. Mother wears a rabbit (or squirrel) fur parka embellished with tiny red and black wool stitches. In her mittened hands she carries a wooden berry scoop and a berry basket made of birch bark, height 9.25 in. A child, similarly dressed in a fur coat, hide mittens, and mukluks, rests on mother's shoulder inside her warm hood. The father, geared for hunting, holds a wooden bow and wooden arrow. A baleen knife in a sealskin sheath is strapped to his belt and a seal fur bag, that hangs down his back, is slung over his shoulder, height 10.75 in.
second quarter 20th century

ETHEL WASHINGTON (1889-1968) has been considered the mother of Eskimo doll making. Self-taught, she began a carving tradition in Kotzebue, Alaska, a tradition continued by Eskimo women today. Critics claim that Ethel’s skill and attention to detail capture[s] the Eskimo spirit (Hedrick and Hedrick 1983: 23).

Washington began to carve dolls in the 1930s, but it wasn't until after her husband's death in 1951, that she began using her talent to support herself and family. Today, her exquisite figures can be found at the Anchorage Fine Arts and Historical Museum and the Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Arts in Bellevue, Washington.
Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


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