you have 0 items in your cart

Walrus Ivory Scrimshaw Snow Bunting by Al Aningayou Gambell Ak


Availability: In stock


by Al Aningayou of St. Lawrence Island, North Bering Sea

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

This fine Snow Bunting was scrimshaw or etched onto the tusk of a walrus by Al Aningayou of Gambell, Alaska, a small Yup'ik Eskimo village of about 350 people on St. Lawrence Island, just south of the Bering 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. Their native Yup'ik language is spoken on both sides of the straits.

Al has etched and carved for many years and is a master carver, he is one of the finest etchers or scrimshaw artists in Alaska, a rare combination. He carves from the ivory tusk of a walrus and whalebone and trims them with baleen, a fibrous material from the mouth of Bowhead whales. Much ivory and whalebone is found washed up on beaches after storms. Carving is a rich tradition on St. Lawrence Island, and helps sustain their proud culture and way of life in a very remote and harsh area.

"Qateghrewaaq" - Snow Bunting. This beautiful Snow Bunting, or "Qateghrewaaq" in the Siberian Yup'ik language is a fine example of scrimshaw art. It's etched on a walrus ivory tusk. The center of the tusk is a light gold/tan color with a rich mottled texture, which can be seen in the photo of the top side of this piece. The outer portion of the tusk is cream colored, on which the Bunting is etched. Followed by pure white, which is not apparent in the photos, but can be seen on close examination. The back side of the piece retains the original surface with a few pits and scratches from many sparing battles for dominance with other walrus. It also has temperature cracks on the back. Temperature cracks are caused when the walrus was hauled out and sunning on a beach in life warming their tusks then plunging back into the cold arctic sea. There tusks develop surface cracks and sea water stains them black, adding to the richness and authenticity of the piece. Al prides himself in the fine detail of the etching

Animals and birds played a key role in the Yup'ik culture. Birds include gulls, ptarmigan, puffins curlews and buntings. Birds were spirit helpers, and summoned by the Shamans to bring gifts of the spirit. Buntings were carved from ivory into amulets and adorned those who summoned the spirits. Their brightly colored feathers also adorn clothing of those who summoned the spirits. The presence of a bird during  a ritual was a good omen, and sign of good things to come. Birds were also a source of food, especially in the spring. Perky Snow Buntings are harbingers of spring. Nothing is more cheerful than their song after a long winter.

Care of ivory includes avoiding hot dry low humidity locations, such as direct sun in a window or a heat register. Remember, our pet dogs, cats and birds also like ivory!

Al's signature is on the lower right hand corner of the etching. It measures 2 7/8 inches high, 7/8 inches back to front and 1 3/8 inches wide.

This unique scrimshaw tusk would be a wonderful addition to a collection and the subject of many conversations. It's a fine etching done by a Eskimo carver in a very remote part of the US.

Buy it Now!