Exhibitions: Living Legacies: The Arts of the Americas

Engraved Whale Tooth

Engraved Whale Tooth. Eskimo artist (late 19th century), Alaska. Sperm whale tooth, black ash or graphite, oil. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Robert B. Woodward, 20.895

This engraved tooth depicts several scenes of men hunting: chasing a huge walrus, harpooning a whale, spearing a bear, and aiming bows and arrows at a caribou. One of the most intriguing scenes shows three men dancing and holding circular drums. Two of the men wear bushy foxtails, which were considered quite fashionable.