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Walrus Bone Walrus by Yupik Eskimo Carver Melcher Ozavaseuk, Gambell AK


Availability: In stock


by Melcher Oozevaseuk of St. Lawrence Island, North Bering Sea

Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft. It was carved and significantly transformed from old partially fossilized marine mammal walrus bone into Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft and signed by Alaska Native Eskimo artist Melcher Oozevaseuk.

This very nice Swimming Walrus was carved from an old partially fossilized ivory tusk of a walrus by Melcher Oozevaseuk 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 Siberian Yup'ik 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.

Melcher has carved for many years and is a master carver. He carves from ivory tusks of walrus, walrus bone and whalebone, and trims with baleen from Bowhead whales. Much of the walrus ivory, walrus bone and whalebone are 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 ancient culture and way of life in a very remote and harsh area.

Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus, meaning tooth walker), or "Ayveq" - which is walrus in the Siberian Yup'ik language. This beautiful walrus was carved from the lower jawbone of a walrus found in the old village of Gambell. It took on the rich colors and textures from being buried for centuries. The jawbone is a very dense bone and is an excellent medium for carving. On land walrus are a huge mass of plodding blubber, not so in the sea where they are meant to be. This swimming walrus is sleek and elegant, capable of diving deep in search of bottom dwelling food or to escape their enemies, the Orca and Polar Bear. The eyes are inlaid baleen, a fibrous black material found in the mouth of Bowhead whales, they strain food through it. The tusks are inlaid ivory from the walrus tusk. It's mounted on a seal vertebrate base with a baleen pin.

In the Siberian Yup'ik culture the walrus was a source of food, tools and material for artwork and trading. The female hides were stretched over driftwood to make their boats called "umiaks". In the old days Walrus were generally hunted from "umiaks". Walrus will defend themselves and the herd will come to rescue a hunted walrus. Individual walrus were driven ashore with the aid of a baleen clapper, or flat piece of baleen they would slap the ocean surface with, which sounded like an Orca (Killer Whale), the enemy of the walrus. The walrus would seek land, where the hunters waited. The walrus is considered a bringer of good luck and happiness.

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

Melcher's signed the bottom. The walrus measures 3 1/4 inches long, 1 1/8 inches wide and the whole piece stands 3 5/8 inches high at the head.

This is a very nice piece and would make a great addition to a collection or a nice unique gift for someone with an eye for something unusual from one of the most remote areas of the U.S. Old bone is getting hard to find.

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