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Whalebone and Walrus Jawbone Carvings

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Whalebone and walrus jawbone are materials unique to Alaska that have been used for over 2,000 years by indigenous artists and craftsmen from the Northwest Alaska arctic coast. It has been deposited naturally for centuries along the seashore where it has become hardened and mineralized after being buried underground. Hundreds or thousands of years later, it can erode from the sea-cliffs or beaches, where natives gather it on their own private lands as raw materials for their carvings.

Arctic Alaska native art is produced primarily by Yupik and Inupiat artists, but non-native artists in Alaska can also use ancient or fossilized whalebone or walrus bone (as well as fossilized ivory) to produce art works. Alaska is the only state where it is legal for this material to be worked and sold.

The colors of the bone are natural and imparted to the bone over hundreds of years by the minerals in the soil. Alaskan artists study the  shape of the bone before starting to carve, to get a feel for what animal or figure is best suited to that particular piece of bone. Traditional native whalebone and walrus bone carvings are often spiritual as the tribal culture feels that the spirit of man and nature are intertwined. Non-native bone carvers are usually more contemporary in style.

An Alaskan whalebone carving, or perhaps a walrus jawbone figurine carved by an Alaskan indigenous native artist, could be one of the most rare and authentic pieces of traditional art, available only in Alaska!  Legal to own anywhere in the US, there are some restrictions on shipping to some foreign countries, please inquire!


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