Volltext: Anthropos, 59.1964

Canadian Eskimo Carving in Historical Perspective 
By Charles A. Martijn 
Eskimo art, extending back over thousands of years, has never been a 
stylistically homogeneous entity. It can and must be divided into distinctive 
phases and periods (Collins 1961:1). Only by placing these in their proper 
context of time and space may we hope to arrive at a fuller appreciation of them- 
Societies do not remain static. The factors which govern their structure 
are varied in nature and susceptible to a multitude of stresses which affect the 
interrelationship of the whole. Whether subtle and slow or sudden and drastic, 
shifts in equilibrium are constantly taking place. In accordance with this, Ait 
itself, being a manifestation of culture, continually undergoes transformation. 
Hence forms and designs must be studied in order to determine their origin and 
their changes through time, and if possible, the basic reasons or causes for these 
(D. Taylor 1957:478). 
More than a decade ago, when Canadian Eskimo carvings first began to 
receive widespread attention, no recognized authority as yet had published a 
comprehensive and up-to-date study of Eskimo art in all its temporal and 
spatial manifestations. Existent reference books were limited both in historical 
scope and geographical range 1 . Apart from being relatively inaccessible, the 
only preliminary survey attempted, that by Holtved (1947), was written m 
Danish 2 . Regrettably so, this lack of scholarly evaluation has permitted the 
unchallenged appearance in print of diverse formulations and speculations 
about arctic art by persons who, though well-intentioned, did not possess a 
Acknowledgements. I am indebted to the following persons for reading an< 
commenting on various preliminary drafts of this paper ; Professors Robert Dailey > 
James Vanstone, and Fred Voget, Dept, of Anthropology, University of Toronto j 
Dr. William Taylor, National Museum of Canada ; and Dr. Edward S. Rogers, RW 
Ontario Museum, Toronto. Their views do not necessarily coincide with mine, and I wl 
to stress that the opinions expressed are strictly my own. The information so generou j 
provided by many correspondents, and the suggestions and encouragement of RoN a 
Joan Vastokas and Sue O'Hara are also gratefully acknowledged. 
1 There are some thirty monographs which fall in this category. 
2 With a three page English summary appended.


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