Walrus Tusk Mountain Base

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

This “mountain” is the cut-off tip of a walrus tusk that’s been buried underground in Alaska for possibly thousands of years. The tusk is eventually “fossilized”—hardened but not truly a fossil—and takes colors from the minerals surrounding it. Locals dig up these tools used and discarded by their ancestors and sell them 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 ivory. He donated this piece to me as a scrap unusable for his use.

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