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Grizzly Brown Bear, carved walrus bone and ivory by James Aningayou


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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 bone into Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft and signed by Alaska Native Eskimo artist James Aningayou.

This stunning Alaskan Brown Bear or Grizzly Bear with a salmon was carved from the lower jawbone 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". 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 beautiful Brown Bear, or "Kaynga" in the Siberian Yup'ik language, is a real fine work of art. This bear was carved from the lower jawbone of a walrus. The jawbone is very dense and after being buried for years it makes a good carving medium. This bone was found in the old village of Gambell, it was buried for centuries and took on a richly colored tan patina, with touches of brown. The rich natural colorations and subtle textural variations are very unique. The salmon is ivory from the tusk of a walrus. The eyes, nose and each of the claws are inlaid baleen, a fibrous black material found in the mouth of Bowhead whales, they strain food through it. The surface was finely etched to give it the texture of fur. James prides himself in the rich detail. Each claw was cut from a strip of baleen and then mounted. It's mounted on a jawbone base. This is a typical Alaskan summer scene, a bear with a salmon. It's in a standing position and having just caught a salmon it's shaking its head from side to side. Note there is a filler added on the back side of the piece as shown in photos. Walrus jawbone has several nerve holes and they were filled in.

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. Brown Bears are not common on St. Lawrence Island, it's the realm of the Polar Bar. Occasionally they wander out in the summer in search of salmon. Which there are plenty of salmon streams on the island.

Care of bone and baleen includes avoiding extremes in temperature change, give it an occasional very light coating of baby oil or mineral oil, put it on a cloth first, avoid an acid based treatment such as lemon oil, and avoid hot dry areas such as direct sun in a window or a heat register. Remember, our pet dogs, cats and birds also like bone!

James Aningayou's signature (last name) is on the bottom. This unique carving would be a wonderful addition to a collection or a very unique gift, what a surprise! It measures 4 inches long, 3 13/4 inches high which includes the 3/8 inch thick bone base, and 1 1/4 inches wide.

Note there are two natural holes in the original jawbone that were filled in, see photos. It's a real unique carving carved by a Native carver from a very remote area of the world. What a surprise it would make. I think you will be real pleased,

Buy it now!