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Old Walrus Ivory Cribbage Board by Eskimo Carver Stanley Oozeva AK


Availability: In stock


by Stanley Oozeva 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 Stanley Oozeva.
This beautiful cribbage board was carved from old fossil walrus ivory and embellished by sea mammals they hunt by Stanley Oozeva 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.
Stanley 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 two old fossil ivory tusks of a walrus which took on a rich brown patina from being buried for centuries. The center of the walrus tusk is a mottled light golden/yellow color, while the outer portions were all stained a rich brown from minerals in the ground water. Two tusks were joined together to form the board and embellished with two walrus, a seal and a bowhead whale. 
In the Yup’ik culture the seal represented the feminine aspect of life and human nature, the gentle and caring, deeply intuitive, a trait that is the foundation for lasting leadership. Seals were hunted for oil, meat and hides. The hides were made into floats and attached to a spear. The Yup’ik hunter would glide silently up to a “U.ttug” or “seal basking on the ice”. The head of the spear would detach and the seal would be kept afloat with the seal air bag.

In the Siberian Yup'ik culture the Bowhead whale was the preferred whale as it relatively docile when approached by hunters with spears. It was a source of food, tools and building materials. There are several old whalebone structures in the old village of Gambell still standing. The taking of a whale was a village affair, and was symbolic of the community of sharing. It took the cooperation of many to feed the village. Bowheads spend most of their lives in the Arctic seas. They have a massive bone structure on their heads for breaking through the ice. There are approximately 10,000 to 12,000 Bowhead whales in the North Arctic Ocean, and they produce approximately 350 to 400 calves each year.

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 bone!
The cribbage board  is about 7 3/4 inches thick, 5/8 inches high and 1 3/8 inches wide. 
Stanley signed the side 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!