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Walrus Ivory Kayak by Lane Rookok of St. Lawrence Island, Alaska


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by Lane Rookok of St. Lawrence Island, North Bering Sea

Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft. It was carved and significantly altered from marine mammal walrus ivory into Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft and signed by Alaska Native Eskimo artist Lane Rookok.

This hunter in a kayak was carved from an ivory tusk of a walrus by Lane Rookok 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.

Lane 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 (see "about Me page"). Carving is a rich tradition for the Native Alaskan people on St. Lawrence Island, it helps sustain their proud ancient culture and way of life in a very remote and harsh area.

“Quyaq” (Siberian Yup’ik for Kayak) This is a fine example of Native Alaskan Art. Lane carved the hunter and kayak from an ivory tusk of a walrus. The center of the tusk is a rich mottled golden/yellow color, surrounded by cream color and the outer most is pure white, hence color variations. The rich mottled texture can be seen on the back of the hunter's head and shoulders. Note the detail, the old style float bag which was traditionally made from inflated seal skin, the barb on the spear and paddle. The spear, paddle and float bag are made from ivory also. The spear is attached to the float with sinew made from seal gut.

The walrus skin “Quyaq”, or kayak, was a traditional near shore boat for hunting seals, birds, small whales, and with the help of others the taking of walrus. Kayaks were made from drift wood and wrapped with the hide of a female walrus, because the hide was thin and flexible. The spear was attached to a float made from inflated sealskin. The Yupik hunter would glide silently up to a “U.ttug” or “seal basking on the ice”. Walrus was generally hunted from larger boats called Umiaks. Walrus will defend themselves and the herd will come to rescue a hunted walrus. Individual walrus can be driven ashore with the aid of a baleen clapper, or flat piece of baleen with which they would slap the ocean surface, which sounded like an Orca, the enemy of the walrus. Hence the walrus would seek land, where the hunters waited.

Care of 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 or a q-tip, avoid acid based oil such as lemon oil. Remember, our pet dogs, cats and birds also like ivory!

Lane signed the bottom. The hull measures a shade over 3 3/8 inches long, the hunters arms are 1 5/8 inches wide and it stands 7/8 inches high.

This is a real fine piece and would make a real unique gift from one of the most remote areas of the U.S.

Buy it now!