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Grizzly Bear, Walrus Ivory Carving by James Aningayou, Gambell, Alaska


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by James Aningayou of St. Lawrence Island, North Bering Sea

Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft. It was carved and significantly transformed from a marine mammal walrus ivory into Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft and is signed by Alaska Native Eskimo artist James Aningayou.

This stunning Alaskan Brown Bear or Grizzly Bear with a salmon was carved from an ivory tusk of a walrus by James Aningayou of Gambell, Alaska, a small Yup'ik Eskimo village of about 750 people on St. Lawrence Island, just south of the Bering Straits. It's about 140 miles off shore from Nome Alaska, and about 40 miles from Russia. On a clear day (which is rare) you can see the mountains of Russia. Their native Siberian Yup'ik language is spoken on both sides of the straits.

James has carved for many years and is a master carver. He carves from the ivory tusk of a walrus, walrus jawbone and whalebone and trims them with baleen, a fibrous material from the mouth of Bowhead whales. His work is featured in the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, the Wells Fargo Collection and in the book titled "Eskimo Carvers of the Bering Sea" by Dale Kessler.

Much ivory and whalebone is dug up or found washed up on beaches after storms. Carving is a rich tradition for the Native Alaskan people on St. Lawrence Island, it helps sustain their traditional and proud culture and way of life in a very remote and harsh area.

Brown Bear with a Salmon This stunning Brown Bear, or "Kaynga" in the Siberian Yup'ik language, is a real fine work of art. It was carved from a walrus tusk. This carving shows all the rich colors and textures of the tusk. The center of the tusk is a light gold/tan color with a rich mottled texture, which can be seen in the photo on the top back of the bear. The outer portion of the tusk is cream colored, which makes up the sides, followed by pure white, which can be seen on the sides. The surface was finely etched to give it the texture of fur. The eyes and nose are inlaid baleen, as are each of the claws. James prides himself in the detail. Each claw was cut from a strip of baleen and then mounted. It's mounted on an ivory base. This is a typical Alaskan summer scene, a Brown bear with a salmon.

The Bear was symbolic of the hunter and was considered the Father of the Yup'ik people. Claws were mounted close to the entrance of their house to ward off evil spirits. People called upon the spirit of "Kaynga" to witness their oaths.

James Aningayou's signature (last name) is on the bottom. It measures 2 1/4 inches high, 2 1/2 inches rear to head and the bear is 1 1/4 inches wide. This unique carving would be a wonderful addition to a collection or a very unique gift, what a surprise! It's a real unique carving from a very remote area.

Buy it now!