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Walrus Ivory Cribbage Board by Yupik Eskimo Robert Soonagrook AK


Availability: In stock


by Robert Soonagrook of St. Lawrence Island, North Bering Sea

Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft. It was carved and significantly transformed from old fossil walrus ivory into Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft and signed by Alaska Native Eskimo artist Robert Soonagrook.
This beautiful cribbage board was carved from a walrus ivory tusk by Robert Soonagrook 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 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, one of the most remote areas of the U.S. On a clear day (which is rare) you can see the mountains of Russia.
Robert has carved for many years and is a master carver. He carves from ivory tusks of walrus, walrus bone and whalebone, and trims 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. 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.
Cribbage Board or "Uyghagaq" in the Siberian Yupik language. Actually the literal translation means a game played using walrus teeth for counters but my dear departed friend Virginia said there is no specific Siberian Yupik word for a cribbage board but this would convey the idea.
This beautiful cribbage board was carved from an  ivory tusk of a walrus. The center of the walrus tusk is a mottled light golden/yellow color, while the outer portions are a cream and white color. The white is not apparent on the piece. The two "legs" are baleen from a Bowhead Whale. Note the removable plug to store scoring pegs.

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.
Care of walrus ivory includes avoiding a hot location like a sunny window, give it an occasional light coat of mineral oil. Remember, our pet dogs, cats and birds also like ivory!
The cribbage board is about 8 1/2 inches long, 1 1/2 inches high and 1 1/2 inches at its widest. 
Robert signed his Yupik name Ayapaa the bottom of the board. It would make a great addition to a collection or a real surprise and very unique gift for someone special from a very remote part of the U.S.

Buy it now!