• Being a subsistence people, Alaskan Eskimos hunt whales, walrus, and seals to survive.• They use as much of the animals as possible (eating, making something functional, or making art work to keep or sell).• No one must touch these bones except the Native Alaskans if/when they are ready to make use of them.• Also, any animal they hunt is highly respected even after death, from the way the meat is stored to what happens to the bones.• These whale bones are aged and are ready to use for carving or structural supports.
• These whale backbone will be aged for some time so the oil leaches out of it, and animals will continue to clean the meat from it, before it’s ready to be used.
• Homes are utilitarian on the outside (it’s the inside that counts)• There is snow covering everything for 10 months of the year in very harsh conditions.• What they use for underpinning of houses are whale skulls and backbone vertebrae.
• These whale ribs are used as sentinels to guide the Native Alaskans back to the right part of the shore from their hunting trips.• As the island is flat with no trees, this is how they navigate.• Each bone is unique and recognizable to a particular part of the island.
S Alaskan ivory carvings reflect practices and techniques that have been part of Alaskan culture for generations.S Almost as interesting as the carvings themselves, are the raw materials from which they are made.S Some carvings are made from the fossilized ivory tusks of the walrus.S This ivory is already precious enough, but it’s made even more so by the careful attention of native craftsmen, who sculpt it into one-of-a-kind pieces of art.
S We are going to attempt our very own ivory carving… using soap! Here are the steps: S Get a bar of soap. S Put down newspaper at desk S Decide on a subject to carve S Draw an outline of the carving on the soap S Obtain an exacto knife. S Remove the soap outside the outline using slivers, not large chips. S Add detail to the inside of the outline to refine the design further. S Repair small cracks and rough patches by using a toothpick to slightly dampen the area, then smooth over the cracks with your fingers.