Alaskan Native Walrus Ivory Carvings

Walrus Ivory
Walrus Ivory Carvings
New ivory has three layers, just like human teeth: an outer (enamel), middle (dentine), and inner core. A talented native artist will use all three layers in a carving, making unusual patterns on the carving and making it one of a kind. It will sometimes have thin, black lines, which are natural and acceptable in the artwork. The "breathing crack," as they are called, result from abrupt changes in temperature when the walrus moves from warm rock haul-outs to cold sea water. New walrus ivory can only be carved by Alaskan Natives. The resulting sculptures can be bought, sold and transported by anyone. The Eskimo people only hunt for food, then use the by-products for clothing, shelter, and art; in that order. Harvesting of new ivory is carefully monitored by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
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