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Materials Used In Eskimo Sculpture - Page 2

Antler and Horn For Eskimo Sculpture

After stone, the second most common raw material used in Eskimo sculpture is antler. Caribou antler is the favorite since caribou is plentiful on the Arctic tundra. Musk ox horn is also used in certain regions. When an entire Eskimo sculpture is made from antler or horn, the original natural shape is usually no longer recognizable since Inuit carvers have the expertise and creativity to transform them into totally different forms. Quite often, stone Eskimo sculptures of walruses and narwhal whales would have caribou antler pieces added in to represent the tusks of the animal subjects. Examples are shown below.

eskimo sculpture hunter ---------- eskimo sculpture walrus
Caribou Antler Eskimo ----------------- Caribou Antler Tusks on ----
Sculpture of Inuit Hunter ------------- Eskimo Sculpture of Walrus ---

Also, stone Eskimo sculptures of human subjects such as drum dancers would often be made holding drums and drumsticks made from caribou antler. The kneeling female Inuit drum dancer shown below right is such an example.

eskimo sculpture narwhal --------------- eskimo sculpture drum dancer
---Caribou Antler Tusk on ----------- Caribou Antler Used On
----- Eskimo Sculpture of Narwhal ---------- Eskimo Sculpture of -------
----------------------------------------------- Drum Dancer

Ivory For Eskimo Sculpture

Arctic ivory comes from tusks and teeth of walruses, tusks of narwhal whales and teeth of other types of whales. Jewelry and scrimshaw carvings are often made from ivory because of its smaller sizes compared to stone. Sometimes complex scenes such as polar bear hunts and Inuit villages are incised onto larger ivory pieces such as entire walrus tusks or even shoulder blades. The incised lines on these pieces are filled with soot, charcoal or India ink to bring out the detail. Miniature 3-D Inuit scenes such as dogsleds and Inuit families around igloos have also been constructed using ivory. Ivory can also be used as inlays on Inuit art pieces that are made primarily from other materials such as stone.

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Ivory was one of the most common raw materials for Eskimo sculpture since in the past small carvings were the norm rather than the larger pieces often seen today. With market demand for larger Inuit sculpture, stone became the most common medium. The introduction of international laws restricting the use of marine animals also played a major role in the decrease of using ivory for Inuit sculpture over the years. See article on Export of Inuit Eskimo Sculpture Containing Whalebone and Ivory for a detailed explanation and examples of such artwork.

Whalebone For Eskimo Sculpture

Weathered whalebone found at sites along the Arctic coast is also used in Eskimo sculpture. Ancient Thule people who inhabited the Arctic (before the present Inuit) used whale ribs as roofs for their half-buried sod houses. Whalebone used in present Eskimo sculpture is relatively rare since supply is getting limited and like ivory, also falls under international legal restrictions. See article for example of Eskimo sculpture with whalebone.

Inuit artists are producing some stunning Inuit art these days. Imagine displaying such a carving in your home. See Inuit carvings or Inuit prints at very affordable online prices at Free Spirit Gallery.

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