by Brandon Oseuk of St. Lawrence Island, North Bering Sea
Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft. It was carved and significantly transformed from marine mammal walrus ivory into Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft and signed by Alaska Native Eskimo artist Brandon Oseuk.
This stunning proud walrus was carved from an ivory tusk of a walrus by Brandon Oseuk of Gambell, Alaska, a small Siberian Yup'ik Eskimo village of about 700 people on St. Lawrence Island, just south of the Bering Straits. Their Siberian Yup'ik language is spoken on both the U.S. and Russian side of the 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.
Brandon has carved for many years and is a master carver. He carves from ivory tusks of walrus, walrus bone and whalebone, and trims them with baleen from Bowhead whales. Much of the walrus ivory, walrus bone and whalebone are dug up or found washed up on beaches after storms (see About Me page). Carving is a rich tradition for the Native Alaskan people on St. Lawrence Island, it helps sustain their proud culture and way of life in a very remote and harsh area.
Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus, meaning tooth walker), or "Ayveq" - which is walrus in the Siberian Yup'ik language. This beautiful walrus was carved from an ivory tusk found in the old village of Gambell. The center of the tusk is a rich mottled texture while the outer portions are a smooth cream and pure white color. This walrus is very rich in texture and color. The rich mottled center of the tusk can be seen in the upper center of the body, the outer cream and white make up the body. The pure white shows all around the sides. The eyes are inlaid baleen, a fibrous black material found in the mouth of Bowhead whales, they strain food through it. The tusks are inlaid ivory. Brandon carved lots of subtle folds and creases in the skin giving it the look of a thick old hide. This walrus is in an alert position, head high, it's spotted something in the distance, perhaps a Yup'ik hunter or a Polar Bear.
In the Siberian Yup'ik culture the walrus was a source of food, tools and material for artwork and trading. The female hides were stretched over driftwood to make their boats called "umiaks". Walrus were generally hunted from "umiaks". Walrus will defend themselves and the herd will come to rescue a hunted walrus. Individual walrus were driven ashore with the aid of a baleen clapper, or flat piece of baleen they would slap the ocean surface with, which sounded like an Orca (Killer Whale), the enemy of the walrus. The walrus would seek land, where the hunters waited. The walrus is considered a bringer of good luck and happiness. A walrus hauled out on the ice is called "nunavak".
Brandon's signature (last name) is on the bottom. The piece measures 3 1/2 inches high, 2 5/8 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide.
This is a stunning piece and would make a great addition to a collection or a gift for someone with an eye for the unusual.
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