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Museum Cerny. contemporary circumpolar art


Natturalik (“Golden Eagle”) (Sculpture )

His interest in spirits revived in the mid 1980s; Kiugak became fascinated with the story of the bird spirit Natturalik and carved perhaps some twenty versions. The most famous of these is the 1990 Bird Creature (Natturalik) in the National Gallery collection. The story of Natturalik (“Golden Eagle”) and its importance to Kiugak is recounted in the WAG catalogue (pp. 114-116). It is the story of the eagle who kidnapped a young girl in order to marry her; in some versions the story morphs into the legend of the sea goddess. Many of Kiugak’s depictions of Natturalik present him as a fierce-looking bird-human and some, like our one example, imbue him with caribou hooves as well. Source: Walker's Inuit Art Spring 2017 catalogue, pg. 9 Literature: Darlene Coward Wight, Kiugak Ashoona, Stories and Imaginings from Cape Dorset, Winnipeg Art Gallery, page 19 Note: “Kiugak created a series of impressive ‘bird spirit’ carvings over his career. [...] In 2008 interviews, he made it clear that these sculptures depicted the bird shaman, Natturalik (Golden Eagle), from a story told to him by Kiakshuk and others. It is a story about the eagle that abducts a young woman and takes her to his cliff top nest where she becomes his wife. Kiugak described the beginning of the story as involving two girls who were playing together. They pretended to have husbands, using the bones of a bowhead whale. One of the bones turned into an eagle: Natturalik.” Note: “The story of Natturalik related the well-known Inuit legend of a young woman who was abducted by an eagle and taken to the bird’s nesting area on the top of a high cliff. The girl became the eagle’s wife, but she eventually escaped. She secretly saved the skins of animals the eagle brought to her for food and wove them into a long rope that enabled her to climb down the cliff to supposed safety... The girl tried to escape from Natturalik by boat with her father, but the eagle causes a terrible storm. To save himself, the father throws his daughter into the waves...where she sinks to the bottom and lives on as the powerful sea spirit (Sedna)” It is confirmed by the artist himself that his bird spirits are in fact depictions of Natturalik, a name that translates as Golden Eagle in Inuktitut. The powerful bird is often portrayed eating prey, as in this lot, perhaps devouring the head of Sedna’s father. Marie Routledge & Darlene Coward Wight, Kiugak Ashoona: Stories and Imaginings from Cape Dorset, 2010, pages 114-116

Object Type
Natturalik (“Golden Eagle”)
Production Year
Production Location
Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Nunavut, Canada
H45.7 x W35.6 x L38.1 cm