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Fossil Ivory Carvings: ancient ivory

In Alaska, only the native indigenous tribes are allowed to use "fresh" ivory from walrus tusks for carving art, due to a special exemption in the Marine Mammal act.  However, ancient ivory, the fossilized ivory from walrus that has been buried for hundreds or thousands of years, is legal for any artist or craftsman to use.

Alaska native ivory carvers use both fresh walrus tusks, a byproduct of their continued subsistence hunting, but also prize found ancient ivory walrus tusks in their works, as it often has been hardened and colored by minerals in the soils to a richness not seen in the new ivory.

In addition, ancient ivory from the wooly mammoth, which went extinct in Alaska some 10,000 years ago, can be used to create art works by any artists also. Prior and during the last ice age, Alaska's northern plains were home to a surprising number of wooly mammoth; and the hard ivory tusks have not degraded in our permafrost. So this high-quality ivory occasionally erodes from riverbanks or the shores of the Arctic seacoast, where it is usually found by indigenous villagers who live year-around in the region.

Thus the galleries at the Russian American company in Sitka Alaska feature much unique fossil ivory art; not only tribal ivory carvings, but also other talented Alaska carvers using ancient walrus or mammoth ivory. Examples are fossil ivory figurines, sculptures, scrimshaw on ancient ivory, and sterling silver jewelry with fossil ivory settings.

These rare and highly collectable fossil and ancient ivory pieces are a unique addition to any discriminating collection, and a representation of both the history and the art of Alaska.

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