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Polar Bear Claw & Walrus Ivory by Yupik Eskimo Carver Moses Soonagrook


Availability: In stock


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

Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft. It was carved and significantly transformed from marine mammal Polar Bear Claw and walrus ivory into Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft and signed by Alaska Native Yup'ik Eskimo artist Moses Soonagrook. Moses found the Polar Bear carcass in 2002 on a beach on the North side of St. Lawrence Island.

This beautiful Polar Bear claw was mounted on ivory Polar Bear carved from an ivory tusk of a walrus by Moses 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. On a clear day (which is rare) you can see the mountains of Siberia. One of the most remote areas of the U.S.

Moses 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. He is the eldest son of the Soonagrook family of carvers. His father William sr., brothers Billy Boy and Ladd are well known carvers in Alaska. His son Robert is learning to carve. Their work is featured the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Airport collection and in many public, private collections and featured in a book titled "Eskimo Carvers of the Bering Sea" by Dale Kessler.

Polar Bear or "Nanuq" in the Siberian Yup'ik language. This beautiful Polar Bear claw and carved Polar Bear is a fine example of Native Alaskan Yup'ik art. This is a Polar Bear claw mounted on a piece of baleen intern mounted on a carved walrus ivory Polar Bear front body. The carved portion shows all the rich colors and textures of a ivory walrus tusk. The center of the tusk is a light gold/tan color with a rich mottled texture, which shows very well on the underside of the head. The outer portion of the tusk is cream color. The eyes and nose are inlaid baleen; a fibrous black material in the mouth of Bowhead Whales, they strain food through it.

The Polar Bear was symbolic of a powerful hunter, as in the old days the only way to take a Polar Bear was with a spear. It was considered the Father of the Yup'ik people. Polar Bear Claws were mounted close to the entrance of their house to ward off evil spirits and they also had therapeutic qualities, such as a cure for a headache. People called upon the spirit of "nanuq" to witness their oaths. This is a very powerful symbol.

Care of claws, ivory and baleen includes avoiding hot dry locations, such as direct sun in a window or a heat register. Give it an occasional very light coating of baby oil or mineral oil, put it on a cloth first; avoid acid based oil such as lemon oil. Remember, our pet dogs, cats and birds really like ivory and claws!

Moses signed his first name on the bottom of the paw. The piece measures 4 inches long, 1 1/2 inch from the top of the head to bottom of paw, and 1 1/4 inches thick. The claw measures 1 5/8 inches long.

This a real beautiful piece carved from walrus ivory with a rare Polar Bear claw. It would make a great gift or a great surprise from Alaska and a nice addition to a collection, a unique item from a very remote area of the world.

Buy it now, Don't wait!