Base for a Miniature Mountain

A hardwood base carved by Lu Kesi for a miniature fossil walrus ivory mountain.

ivory base
Sculpture 004

This “mountain” is the cut-off tip of a walrus tusk that has been buried in the ground in Alaska for up to thousands of years. The tusk is eventually “fossilized”—hardened but not truly a fossil—where it takes colors from the minerals buried around it. Locals dig it up and sell it to outsiders. Up until recently this was the only form of legal ivory, though now even this is illegal in most places. The rugged look of the mountain comes from the weathering process.

The artist Don Vanderpot creates jewelry and small vessels from this form of ivory. He donated this piece as a scrap unusable for his sculpture.

This piece is very similar to a Chinese scholar’s rock, placed on their desk as a reminder of the power of nature.

The smaller view on the right showing the other side was photographed on a piece of ruled paper, to give a sense of scale.

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