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The Prices of Inuit Art

When buying and shopping for Inuit art, one can find pieces ranging in price from under a hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. There are several characteristics of an Inuit art piece which play important roles in determining its retail price. For the purpose of this article, only characteristics applicable for authentic Inuit art rather than mass produced imitations are discussed (see Authenticity of Inuit Art article).

Size of Inuit Carving

Many would think that the larger the Inuit carving, the higher its price. This is generally true but not always. A smaller piece with greater detail may be priced higher than a larger one with less detail due to the higher degree of difficulty involved in carving high detail.

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For example, a dancing polar bear Inuit carving can be more expensive than a larger seal Inuit carving since bears involve more work and artistic skill by the Inuit art carver. Of course if a carver finished two very similar bear carvings of different sizes, the larger one would be priced higher.

Detail Involved in Inuit Carving

As suggested above, the amount of detail in an Inuit art carving will be a major factor in price. In general, subjects such as seals and whales involve less detail than bears and human subjects. Therefore, we would expect the more complex subjects to be priced higher. Each part of a subject's body should be in correct proportion to each other. An Inuit carving that is out of proportion may not be priced as high as one that is. Although every piece of stone will show some natural veining or natural fault lines, they should not be present in a distracting way in key areas like the face. This can also have an impact on price.

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Inuit Art Carving of Drum Dancer & Polar Bear
by Gideon Taqaogak

Inuit art showing some movement in form such as in a well carved walking polar bear, will also move the price up since it shows the artistic skill of the carver. When one looks at a nice walking polar bear Inuit carving, one should be able to imagine it in motion. Similarly, a dancing bear that balances well demonstrates the skill involved in making it. Inuit art pieces involving more than one subject such as a hunter with a seal or a transformational piece will also cost more. However, each element in a multi-subject piece should work together with some type of obvious relationship. This type of piece should almost be able to tell a story of the scene it is depicting.

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