by Moses Soonagrook of St. Lawrence Island, North Bering Sea
It was carved and significantly transformed from marine mammal walrus ivory and seal claw into Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft and signed by Alaska Native Eskimo artist Moses Soonagrook.
This unusual seal claw is mounted on a seal carved from walrus ivory 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 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.
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".
Claw from a Northern Fur Seal or "Neghsaq Estuk" in the Siberian Yup'ik language. This is a fine example of Native Alaskan Yup'ik art. This seal claw was mounted on a carved piece of walrus ivory. The center of the tusk has a light golden colored rich mottled texture, followed by a smooth cream and lighter cream and a white spot on the side. The mottled center can be seen well on the back of the seal. The eyes are inlaid baleen; a fibrous black material in the mouth of Bowhead Whales, they strain food through it. The claw is from a seal and is mounted on baleen intern mounted on ivory.
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 in their kayak up to “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.
Care of ivory and seal claws 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 seal claws!
Moses signed his first and last initial on the bottom. The piece measures 3 1/2 inches long, the head of the piece is 1 inch wide and 1 1/8 inches high at the forward flippers. The actual claw is 2 1/4 inches long.
This is a very unusual and unique piece and would surly draw attention and questions, a great gift for someone with an eye for the unusual from one of the most remote areas of the U.S.
Buy it Now!!