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CHUKCHI SNOW GOGGLES IN MAMMOTH IVORY
North Eastern Siberia
Length 13 cm (5.25 in)
Early 19th Century
The goggles are carved from mammoth ivory and have traces of old polychrome.
The Chukchi people are an ancient arctic tribe living in the tundra, an area of desolate wasteland in North-Eastern Siberia; the landscape is barely broken by the presence of trees so they have adapted to their environment by making use of all natural resources. The inland Chukchi are herders of reindeer and those on the coast rely on fishing so the only materials available for making tools are antlers, bones and a little wood so the discovery of a piece of 10,000 year old mammoth tusk would be a very valuable and much prized find. The goggles with their fine carving, smooth finish and traces of polychrome would have been greatly appreciated and must have belonged to a person of status within the society.
The Chukchi homeland is snow covered for the greater part of the year with winter temperatures plummeting to as low as minus 50 degrees centigrade so the danger of snow blindness caused from the low lying arctic sun reflecting from the dazzling snow is a very real concern - the narrow slits which feature on all snow goggles considerably lessen the amount of light reaching the retina and are an effective protection.
Ex Russian Private Collection
Ex Israeli Private Collection
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