Franz Lidz at the NYT:
The world’s oldest known wooden sculpture — a nine-foot-tall totem pole thousands of years old — looms over a hushed chamber of an obscure Russian museum in the Ural Mountains, not far from the Siberian border. As mysterious as the huge stone figures of Easter Island, the Shigir Idol, as it is called, is a landscape of uneasy spirits that baffles the modern onlooker.
Dug out of a peat bog by gold miners in 1890, the relic, or what’s left of it, is carved from a great slab of freshly cut larch. Scattered among the geometric patterns (zigzags, chevrons, herringbones) are eight human faces, each with slashes for eyes that peer not so benignly from the front and back planes.
The topmost mouth, set in a head shaped like an inverted teardrop, is wide open and slightly unnerving.