Engraved Whale Tooth
Arts of the Americas
On View: Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
These two engraved objects, a walrus tusk and a sperm whale tooth, encapsulate aspects of Indigenous Arctic life, particularly the use of natural materials and the importance of hunting. The tusk is decorated with depictions of men hunting walrus in boats, of village huts, and of women preparing food. The tooth presents a variety of hunting scenes in which men chase a walrus, harpoon a whale, spear a bear, and aim bows and arrows at a caribou. One especially intriguing scene shows three men dancing and holding circular drums.
Sperm whale tooth, black ash or graphite, oil
late 19th century
6 1/2 x 3 x 2 in. (16.5 x 7.6 x 5.1 cm) (show scale)
Gift of Robert B. Woodward
Sperm whale tooth with engraved images depicting various aspects of hunting, fishing, and daily life. The scenes include animals such as walrus, bears, whales, fishes and dogs. The incised designs are filled with black pigment.
Condition: fair and stable with some material loss towards wide end of the tooth.
Native Alaskan. Engraved Whale Tooth, late 19th century. Sperm whale tooth, black ash or graphite, oil, 6 1/2 x 3 x 2 in. (16.5 x 7.6 x 5.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Robert B. Woodward, 20.895. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 20.895_left.jpg)
left, 20.895_left.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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