Translation of syllabics on bottom of sculpture: “The legend of an eagle who carried a woman to a mountain in ancient times. He desired her as a wife.”
Legend: The Eagle and The Young Girl (told by Pauloosie Sivuak 1930-1986)
Once upon a time a woman lost her husband went to live inland for the summer with her two sons and her young daughter, Paniapik. One day, the youngest boy and the little girl were playing outside their tent when an eagle came along, swooped upon the little girl and carried her away. The eagle took the girl to the top of the highest mountain where it was impossible for her to climb down. She didn’t know what the eagle was going to do to her.
The eagle told her: “You are to be my wife and stay here with me.” The young girl started to cry for she did not know what to do. To please her, the eagle went caribou hunting. He hunted the best baby caribou for her because this game was easier for him to carry to the top of the mountain. The eagle made sure they were never out of food so he always went hunting before their supplies ran out.
Paniapik worked on the caribou skins with a stone which she used as a knife. She saved all the skins. Every time the eagle was away hunting, she would cut the skins in strips and braid them into rope. When she would hear the eagle coming back, she would hide the rope. She also used to hide some of the caribou meat while she was cutting it up so that the eagle would have to go hunting more often.
Paniapik worked as hard as she could whenever the eagle was out hunting, braiding her rope and watching for his return. She did this for nearly the whole summer. Finally, her rope was long enough for her to climb down. She could see her home from where she was. One day, when the eagle was away hunting, she climbed down the mountain and ran as fast as she could until she reached her home.
She was just going into the tent when the eagle arrived looking for his wife. Her brothers came out to drive the eagle away. The eagle was yelling “Where is my wife? Where is she?”
The brothers got their bows and arrows ready and said: “Show us that you are worthy of our sister by showing us how great your wings are.” The eagle spread his wings to show his greatness. The brothers shot him with their arrows. The eagle fell to the ground and as soon as he touched the ground his whole body disappeared. Only the collar bone was left.
Aisa began to carve at the age of ten with his father, master-artist, Davidialuk Amittu. By the time he was twelve, he was producing his own sculptures based mostly on the ancient legends told to him by his father. For many years, his style was quite influenced by that of his father, but Aisa continued to gain strength and confidence in his work.
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