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Fossilized Walrus Jawbone

Browse Keller's Walrus Jawbone Carvings

This sculpture has been crafted in the tradition of the North, utilizing natural bone materials obtained in Alaska and St. Lawrence Island, in Eskimo villages such as Sekloaqget, Ievoghiyog, and Miyowagh. The Bone is found in ancient hunting sites or in natural "wash-ups" of the massive skeletons and skulls. This mineralized bone ranges in age from several hundred to thousands of years old.

Walrus bone is particularly dense to support the massive frames of the adult walrus. Mature females weigh in at 2,000 lbs. with males weighing easily half again as much. Pacific walrus populations are abundant, unlike the Atlantic subspecies. Lively rookeries or calving grounds are located on rocky beaches around the Bering and Chukchi Seas. Although regulated walrus hunting is still permitted by Native villagers to support their subsistence lifestyle, the bones used in these works of art are very old.

Colors of fossil walrus bone vary greatly depending on the length of time the bone was buried and what types of soil it was buried in. The cracks which you sometimes see in the sculptures are quite natural for materials of this age, and add character and charm to each individual work of art.

The use of animal bones in traditional Alaskan art is an expression of respect for the spirit of the creatures and wise use of all resources available to people living in a remote, isolated and harsh environment.

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