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Alaska Inuit Jewelry

From the shores of Kachemak Bay in scenic Homer, Alaska designer Catrin Lovett incorporates the rare and beautiful ancient fossil walrus and mammoth ivories into one of a kind creations, revealing the natural beauty of these unique and timeless materials.

Fossil walrus ivory and wooly mammoth tooth are two of the few types of ivory available today that do not endanger a living animal. Fossil walrus ivory is either the teeth (shed by the walrus periodically and washed onshore) or tusk pieces. The tusk pieces can be either “fossil” ivory artifacts (thousands of years old) found near centuries-old Eskimo villages or fresh ivory taken legally by the Inuit (Eskimos) and distributed by the Alaska Fish and Game Commission. Wooly mammoth teeth are found in melting glaciers in Alaska and the Siberian tundra. In prehistoric times these animals were not in any ecological danger and the animals were hunted for food and tools. Ivory was considered a gift from the gods and was used by the Eskimo to make tools and utensils.

The Inuit believe that a huge mammoth-like creature they called “kogukhpuk” once roamed the earth threatening man. These creatures were reputedly driven underground by a powerful shaman, but return to the surface one night each year to wander and feed. Underground, they burrow about from place to place, and should they accidentally break through to the surface and breathe air, they instantly die. The tusks and bones found by the Inuit eroding out of frozen river banks and coastlines are taken by them as evidence of the truth of this tale.

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Hendren, Shane