#896 Fossilized Walrus Jawbone Nativity
Acquired 2022As ancient bone from the sea, fossil walrus bones and teeth are mostly found on the arctic coasts of Alaskan Eskimo villages. The materials are found at ancient hunting sites or obtained from wash-ups of fossil bones on shore. Excavated fossil bones, teeth and tusks have been dated from several hundred years old to 1,000 years old. Fossil walrus bone can come from walruses weighing a ton or more. Although regulated, walrus hunting is still permitted by Eskimo and Native villagers to support their subsistence lifestyle. My chosen nativity is from Ivory Jack Native Designs – and they use only fossil walrus bone for their sculpted pieces and my specific nativity is from the walrus jawbone. Because bone varies depending on burial length of time or type of material it was buried in, the colors can vary which adds character to the molded, sanded, and polished pieces. You can even see teeth marks from the gum cavity of the jawbone.My seven-piece set was crafted by Chivly Chup of Cambodia. He was a refugee from Cambodia after losing his parents and two siblings to starvation. He was a refugee in Thailand for two years, the Philippines for six months before being sponsored by an American family to the United States – specifically Alaska. It was there he learned of the fossil bone carvings and enhanced the skill he had naturally within him from his childhood days in Cambodia. Now at age 53, he has been carving Alaskan art for 33 years. My specific set, which I purchased from Corrington’s Alaska Ivory Shop in Skagway, AK, includes Mary holding Baby Jesus, Joseph with his staff, the angel, a shepherd holding a small cub bear and three Eskimo kings. It came with a donkey, but I traded the donkey out for the polar bear with the salmon in his mouth. You can see the walrus jawbone teeth indentations in some of my pieces which makes the set even more unique. It is the most expensive table size set in my collection - $3,300. Purchased August 2022.