Description of Dennis Pungowiyi’s Ivory Halibut Carving

Artist and Artwork Details

Renowned Yupik artist Dennis Pungowiyi has crafted a stunning ivory halibut carving. Mounted on a piece of whale bone, this piece stands out with its unique blend of materials and cultural significance. The combined figure measures 3.5 inches wide, 2.5 inches deep, and 2.2 inches high. Additionally, Pungowiyi’s attention to detail shines through in the halibut’s eyes, which are inlaid with baleen. He signs each of his works with his initials, DHP. Priced at $215, this carving is available exclusively for sale in the United States.

Cultural and Community Context

The Yupik people, particularly from the villages of Gambell and Savoonga on the St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, are famous for their exceptional ivory carvings. Located 32 miles from the Siberian coast in the Bering Sea, these villages have a combined population of less than 1500 people but boast a rich tradition of walrus ivory craftsmanship. Additionally, some Yupik live along the mainland coast near the Bering Sea, continuing their cultural practices.

Cultural Importance of Walrus

For the Yupik and other Alaska Natives, walruses are essential both nutritionally and culturally. The community utilizes every part of the walrus:

  • Meat, Blubber, Skin, and Organs: These provide a rich and nutritious food source.
  • Hides: Used to cover boats, reflecting practical and traditional uses.
  • Tusks: Carved into intricate ivory pieces, these carvings are sold to collectors, providing a vital source of income for Yupik communities.

Additional Information

For more about walrus ivory carvings and other Alaskan Native art, visit Tribal Crafts.

Additionally, you can learn more about the history and craftsmanship of Savoonga’s ivory carvers in Savoonga Ivory Carvers.

Dennis Pungowiyi   Yupik

Ivory halibut on whale bone

Walrus ivory, baleen, & whale bone – 2.2 x 3.5 x 2.5  inches

$215 (for US sale only – excluding CA, NJ, & NY)