Here’s a conundrum: a handsome, elegantly abstract, carved pipestone turtle, signed “Sitting Star”; the artist deserves to be praised and well-known, but we have no idea of who the maker might have been, the carver’s tribal affiliation, or, indeed, the age of the piece! We have found similar pieces that are attributed to the Lakota tribe, so that is our best guess!
So, this sleek red turtle will have to be appreciated on its own, considerable merits.
Pipestone is native to the northern tier, and most often used by Plains tribes, traditionally. So, the carver might have been from one of those tribes, and /or a member of the turtle clan, perhaps.
In the southwest, turtles are considered good luck, since they live in and around water.
For other tribes, turtles represent Mother Earth, carrying the world on her back.
Whatever its origin, this turtle is expertly created with recognizable turtle features, although without detail.
Except for the notched feet, the whole piece is smooth and rounded.
Delicately etched lines depict the scaly shell and the eyes, while the smoothed pipestone is peppered with lighter colored dots.
These look like stars in the firmament, a visual signature, given the name of the artist.
Pipestone is dense, so this turtle is a bit of a heavyweight; it would be a very fine paperweight on your desk, as well as a beautiful, carved table fetish, or miniature sculpture.