by Kelly Slwooko 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 Kelly Slwooko.
This very nice Bowhead whale was carved from a walrus tusk by Kelly Slwooko 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 Russia.
Kelly 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 walrus ivory, walrus bone and whalebone are either 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.
"Aghveq" - which is Bowhead Whale in the Siberian Yup'ik language.
Kelly carved this beautiful Bowhead Whale from an ivory tusk of a walrus found in the old village of Gambell. The center of the tusk has a light golden colored rich mottled texture, which makes up the center of the body. The outer portions are a smooth cream which makes up the body followed by a pure white which can very faintly be seen on the top (not apparent in the photos). This Bowhead is very beautiful. The eyes are inlaid baleen; a fibrous black material in the mouth of Bowhead Whales, they strain food through it.
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. Bowhead's 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.
Care of ivory includes avoiding extremes in temperature change; give it an occasional light coating of baby oil or mineral oil, put it on a cloth or a Q-tip, avoid an acid based treatment such as lemon oil, and avoid hot dry areas such as direct sun in a window or a heat register. Remember our pet dogs, cats and birds also like ivory!
Kelly signed his Eskimo name ""Mala" on the bottom. The Bowhead measures 3 inches long, 1 1/4 inches wide and 3/4 inches thick. It stands 1 1/2 inches high. This a real fine piece carved by an Eskimo carver from a very remote area of the world. It would make a great gift from Alaska or a nice addition to a collection.
Buy it now!