Friday, November 21, 2014

Finished Ivory Polar Bear Head Pendants

Dorset Palaeoeskimo Bear
Head Reproductions
I finished the polar bear head amulets that I was working on and have them strung on to simple black leather cords.  Walrus tusks can have natural cracks running their length that are dark brown or black at the surface but that warm to a honey or caramel colour on the inside before they vanish.  The surface of the first two carvings that I worked on had these dark bands running lengthwise along the heads and  I wasn't sure if the client would like the look or not, so I made a third one to give a nice clean, white option.  All three heads are based on Dorset Palaeoeskimo artifacts found in the High Arctic and Newfoundland and Labrador between about 2000 and 1000 years ago.  I purchased the ivory that I used here from the Co-Op in Cape Dorset, Nunavut.

The head on the left is based on artifacts from Newfoundland and Labrador, while the head on the right are based on Dorset Palaeoeskimo bear head carvings from the High Arctic.  The High Arctic versions are more anatomically natural carvings, with more detailed musculature on the head and muzzles, with more detailed noses and mouths.  The Newfoundland and Labrador version is relatively natural looking for this province, but by comparison, it is still a more stylized form emphasizing the silhouette of the bear head over anatomical accuracy.  

The underside of the bears differ as well.  The original Dorset Palaeoeskimo bear heads were often carved with suspension holes or holes running from their mouths down their throats.  The two smaller carvings here have simple holes carved at the base of the head and the original artifacts were likely suspended from a cord, much like these necklaces.  The larger head in the lower right corner of this photo is based on the Newfounldand and Labrador artifacts that have the linear channel running the length of the head, with one hole in the mouth and one hole in the throat.  If a cord was threaded through them originally, then it seems like it was probably running lengthwise through the head, rather than suspended at one end as shown here.

Three little bears.  I have my favourite, but they all turned out well. I have a lot of respect for the Dorset Palaeoeskimo crafts-people who made the originals with stone tools.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

1 comment:

Related Posts with Thumbnails