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Sheldon Jackson Museum January 2021 Artifact of the Month: Yup'ik Box

by Daniel Cornwall on 2021-01-29T12:33:00-09:00 in Artifact of the Month, Museums, Sheldon Jackson Museum | 0 Comments

For Immediate Release
January 16, 2021

Oblong Yup'ik Box

The Sheldon Jackson Museum January Artifact of the Month is a Yup’ik box collected by Sheldon Jackson from Andreafski (SJ-II-B-136 A, B). The Sheldon Jackson Museum has many Yup’ik boxes, but this is the only lidded box with such an intricate surprise awaiting the person who opens it – a highly detailed hunting scene is painted on the inside.

The handmade box is oval in shape and was probably used to store hunting implements or tools. There are red painted grooves that run around the center of the sides and in the center of the top exterior cover. The lid is attached with a small piece of rawhide and a second piece of rawhide is attached to the edge and loops around a small wooden peg to facilitate closure. Apart from the small strip of red paint on the slightly raised groove, the cover of the box is simple and has no embellishment. Yet, when opened, you become witness to an entertaining depiction of bustle and commotion. Thirteen small animal and human figures appear in a hunting scene. Painted in black, there are recognizable and unrecognizable caricatures including a caribou being speared by a man with raised arms, an otter, two whales or perhaps mythical sea creatures, including one with a turtle- like shape extending off of its back, a man in a boat holding a bow in one hand and a spear in the other (an unidentifiable figure floating above him), two defecating caribou, a defecating man with his arms raised, scared, perhaps by the bear (?) in front of him, and an unidentifiable mythical horse-like creature in the upper left hand corner.

The Sheldon Jackson Museum’s January Artifact of the Month and twenty-three other Yup’ik boxes in the permanent collection may be seen at the museum during hours of operation – Wednesday through Saturday 12pm until 4:00pm. General admission is $7, $6 for seniors, and free for those 18 and under or members of either the Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum or Friends of the Alaska State Museum.

Media Contact:
Patience Frederiksen Alaska State Librarian 907.465.2911

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