Intricately Crafted Ivory Mallard Duck by Inupiaq Artist Ted Mayac Sr.


Ted Mayac Sr., an Inupiaq artist, skillfully crafted this intricately carved ivory mallard duck. He textured and colored the piece with ink, demonstrating his exceptional talent. Known for his outstanding carving and scrimshaw work, Ted comes from the famous Peter Mayac family, originally from King Island. Notably, this mallard, measuring 2.3″ long, 1″ wide, and 2.2″ high, has been sold, highlighting the high demand for the Mayac family’s artwork.

The Mayac Family Legacy

The Peter Mayac family, renowned for their exquisite ivory carvings of Alaskan birds and mammals, has built a legacy through generations. Consequently, collectors eagerly seek carvings and scrimshaw pieces by the Mayac family, underscoring their prominence in Alaskan native art. Each family member continues to contribute to their esteemed reputation, ensuring the family’s legacy endures.

Inupiaq Heritage and Migration

The Inupiaq people originally lived on King Island but relocated to mainland Alaska due to a tuberculosis outbreak during World War II, the closing of the island’s school, and other economic factors. By the 1970s, most families had moved, with many Inupiaq now living near Nome, Alaska. Despite these changes, the Inupiaq community preserves its rich cultural heritage through various art forms, including baleen baskets and ivory carvings.

The Importance of Walruses

Walruses play a crucial role in the nutrition and culture of Alaska Natives. Importantly, they use the entire animal: meat, blubber, skin, and organs provide a rich source of food, while hides cover boats. Furthermore, artists value tusks for creating ivory carvings, which provide a significant source of income. Consequently, collectors prize these ivory pieces, further highlighting the cultural and economic importance of walruses to the Inupiaq people.

For more information on Alaskan ivory carvings, visit Tribal Crafts.

For historical context on the Inupiaq relocation, refer to this Alaskan Native Studies article.

walrus ivory mallard duck

Ted Mayac Sr.    Inupiaq  

Mallard drake

Walrus ivory and ink – 2.2 x 1.0 x 2.30 inches