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Walrus Ivory Sea Hawk by Yupik Eskimo Carver Mark Nupowhotuk Ak


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by Mark Nupowhotuk 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 Mark Nupowhotuk.

This stunning Sea Hawk was carved from an ivory tusk of a walrus by Mark Nupowhotuk 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 Siberia.

Mark has carved for many years and is a master carver. He carves from ivory tusks and teeth of walrus, walrus bone and whalebone, and trims them with baleen from Bowhead whales. Most walrus ivory, walrus bone and whalebone are 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.

"Qawaagqak" - which is Sea Hawk in the Siberian Yup'ik language. Mark is real proud of his eagle and hawk carvings, each one is unique. The piece was carved from an ivory tusk found in the old village of Gambell. This carving shows the subtle texture and color of a walrus tusk. The center of the tusk is a rich mottled light gold texture while the outer portions are a smooth cream and pure white. The rich mottled center of the tusk runs through the center part of the body and can be barely be seen between the wings and the belly, the outer cream surrounds the center and there is a touch of pure white on the right wing, not apparent in the photos. The eyes are inlaid baleen, a fibrous black material found in the mouth of Bowhead whales, they strain food through it. This hawk is in a alert stance, wings spread ready to take flight.

In the Siberian Yup'ik culture hawks and eagles were spirit helpers, summoned by the Shaman to bring gifts of the spirit. Eagles were carved from ivory into amulets and their feathers adorned the clothing of those who summoned the spirits. The presence of a eagle during a ritual was a good omen, and a sign of good things to come. Birds were also a source of food, and their eggs came at a time when food was in short supply, early spring.

Care of ivory includes avoiding hot dry locations, such as direct sun in a window or a heat register. Give it an occasional coat of mineral oil. Remember, our pet dogs, cats and birds also like ivory!

Mark's signature is on the bottom. This ivory hawk was carved from a single piece of ivory, it measures 2 5/8 inches long, 1 7/8 inches wide, and 1 1/8 inches high.

This is a real fine piece, rich in detail, truly unique. It would be the subject of many questions and much admired. It would make a great gift for someone who appreciates one of a kind unique gifts from a very remote area, or a great addition to a collection.

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