The Legend of the Blind BoyEnlarge image

The Legend of the Blind Boy, 1998

Toonoo Sharky
Canadian (Inuit), 1970
green stone, brown stone, ivory and baleen inlay
47 x 57 x 15 cm
Purchased 1999
National Gallery of Canada (no. 40090)

The legend tells of a blind boy who has his sight magically restored through the aid of a loon, and is then able to take revenge on his abusive mother. By tying her to a rope of a harpoon, she is carried away by a speared whale, and in most versions of the legend, is transformed into a narwhal, her braid becoming its distinctive horn.
I make carvings my grandfather couldn't have done, just because he was using hand tools and I use power tools. These tools let us carve shapes that our elders couldn't ... so I can express different ideas. - Toonoo Sharky, Cape Dorset, 1997 Sharky adopts a less literal approach to the well-known story of the boy who regained his sight with the help of a loon. Instead of illustrating a particular episode, this young artist interprets the legend through visual symbols: the face with the missing eye stands for his sight regained, and (on the other side) the face enfolded within a wing represents the loon-spirit helper.




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