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Walrus Ivory Polar Bear Family by Yupik Eskimo James Uglowook, Ak


Availability: In stock


by James Uglowook

Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft. It was carved and significantly transformed from marine mammal walrus ivory into a Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft and is signed by Alaska Native Eskimo artist James Uglowook.

This fine family of Polar Bears was carved from the tusk of a walrus and mounted on a baleen base by James Uglowook of Gambell, Alaska, a small Yup'ik Eskimo village of about 700 people

on St. Lawrence Island, just south of the Bering Straits. Their native language is spoken on both the Russian and U.S. sides 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.

James has carved for many years and is a master carver. He carves from ivory tusk of walrus and whalebone and trims them with baleen, a fibrous material from the mouth of Bowhead whales, they strain food through it. His work is featured in the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, the Wells Fargo Collection and in the book titled "Eskimo Carvers of the Bering Sea".

Much ivory and whalebone is dug up or found washed up on beaches after storms. Carving is a rich tradition for the Native People on St. Lawrence Island, it helps sustain their proud and ancient culture and way of life in a very remote and harsh area.

Polar Bear - This beautiful Polar Bear, family or "Nanuq" in the Siberian Yup'ik language, is a fine example of Siberian Yup'ik art. This carving shows 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. The outer portion is cream colored, followed by pure white, hence color variations. The three bears are mounted on walrus ivory intern mounted on baleen, a black fibrous material in the mouths of Bowhead Whales. James prides himself in the detail. The bears are in a playing mode which according to the carver he has seen.

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.

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 light coat of mineral oil. Remember, our pet dogs, cats and birds also like ivory!

James Uglowook's signature (last name) is on the bottom. The baleen base measures 5 1/2 inches long, 3 7/8 inches wide and 2 1/8 inches high. This unique piece carving would be a great item for conversation and display or a real surprise gift.

Buy it now!