Alvin Aningayou’s Ivory Carvings

Alvin Aningayou, a talented Yupik artist from Gambell, skillfully crafts beautiful Tseal walrus ivory carvings. This ivory spotted seal, measuring 3.5 inches in length, 1.25 inches in width, and 0.8  inches in height, features inlaid baleen eyes and intricate ink work. This carving, which has already sold, highlights the high demand for Alvin’s work. Collectors of Alaskan ivory carvings eagerly seek out his creations, which include various seal species. Over time, Native artists like Alvin have become renowned for their finely detailed ivory carvings.

The Yupik People and St. Lawrence Island

The Yupik people, primarily living in the villages of Gambell and Savoonga on the St. Lawrence Island, excel in walrus ivory carvings. St. Lawrence Island, located off the Northwest coast of Alaska, sits 32 miles from the Siberian coast in the Bering Sea. These villages have a total population of less than 1,500. They are almost entirely inhabited by Yupik Eskimos, also known as Siberian Yupik. They share language, culture, and often familial connections with the Yupik people in coastal parts of the southern Chukchi Peninsula of Russia. Some Yupik also live near the Bering Sea on the mainland coast of Alaska.

The Importance of Walruses

Walruses play a vital role in the nutrition and culture of Alaska Natives. They provide a rich source of food with their meat, blubber, skin, and organs. Additionally, their hides cover boats. Artists use the tusks to carve intricate ivory pieces. They sell these carvings to collectors, providing a valuable source of income.

Further Reading

For more information about Alaskan ivory carvings and the unique artistry of the Yupik people, visit Tribal Crafts. To explore the history and artistry of Savoonga ivory carvers, check out this book on Amazon.

ivory spotted seal

Alvin Aningayou      Yupik  

Ivory spotted seal

Ivory, baleen & ink – 0.8 x 3.5 x 1.25 inches