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Whalebone Brown Grizzly Bear Moses Soonagrook of St Lawrence Island

$155.00

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"Kaynga"

by Moses Soonagrook of St. Lawrence Island, North Bering Sea

Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft. It was carved and significantly transformed from marine mammal old whalebone into Authentic Alaska Native Eskimo handicraft and signed by Alaska Native Eskimo artist Moses Soonagrook.

This rich textured Alaskan Brown Bear or Grizzly Bear was carved from whalebone by Moses Soonagrook 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.

Moses 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. He is the eldest son of the Soonagrook family of carvers. His father William Sr., brothers Billy Boy and Ladd are well known carvers in Alaska. His son Robert is learning to carve. Their work is featured the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Airport collection and in many public, private collections and featured in a book titled "Eskimo Carvers of the Bering Sea" by Dale Kessler.

Much walrus ivory, walrus bone and whalebone are either 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 culture and way of life in a very remote and harsh area.

Walking Brown Bear - This beautiful Brown Bear (Grizzly Bear) or "Kaynga" in the Siberian Yup'ik language is a fine example of Native Yup'ik art. It was carved from whalebone found washed up on a beach in the Central North shore of the island, a place called Apataki point. It was probably a large vertebrate of a bowhead whale. It has a very rich texture and took on rich colors from being buried for centuries. The eyes and nose are inlaid baleen, a fibrous black material in the mouth of Bowhead whales, they strain food through it. It's mounted on a whalebone Oozeva base, equivalent to the disk in our backbone. Traditionally these were made into dishes.

The Brown Bear (although not common on the island) was symbolic of a powerful hunter, as in the old days the only way to take a Brown Bear was with a spear. It was considered the Father of the Yup'ik people and the source of their instincts. 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 to witness their oaths. Brown Bear fur provided for warm cloths and bedding.

Care of bone includes avoiding extremes in temperature change and low humidity and avoid hot dry areas such as direct sun in a window or a heat register. Remember, our pet dogs, cats and birds also like bone carvings!

Moses signed the bottom The bear measures 6 7/8 inches long, 2 1/2 inches wide and stands 4 1/2 inches high including the bone base. This a real fine piece, rich in color and texture carved by an Eskimo carver from a very remote area of the world. It would make a great gift from Alaska or a nice addition to a collection.

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