Savoongs Ivory Carvers: a Yupik Walrus Ivory Carving Tradition on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska

Savoonga Ivory Carvers: a yupik walrus ivory carving tradition on St. Lawrence island, Alaska

Author: Bruce Bartholomew

9 × 12”, 560pp., 490 colour illustrations, hardcover, USA 2015

Design and Production: C A Design

This lavishly produced book published in 2015 is a large format book with photographs of almost all the carvers of Savoonga as well as photographs of their work. The book brings together a great deal of information concerning not only the names of the carvers but also what they carve, how they signed their names, and how they are related to other carvers on the island. No other publication has this sort of in depth information about this carving tradition.

Eskimo art is a subject that covers not only a wide range of media but also many different linguistic and cultural groups over a large part of the arctic and subarctic from Russia through Alaska and Canada to Greenland. All of these different groups share a common cultural heritage in subsistent hunting of marine mammals and the use of these mammals for both food and many aspects of their material and social culture. Among the animals hunted, walrus are not only used for food but in traditional society their skin was used for the covering of boats and houses, and even their intestine served to make waterproof clothing. But, it is the use of ivory from walrus tusks which has a special place in the culture of many Eskimo groups and has continuity from pre-history to the present day. Among all the Eskimo walrus ivory carvers those from St. Lawrence Island are conspicuous as one of the most outstanding traditions.



Book review:
A beautiful and comprehensive book on the carvers and their carvings 

OMG! This is not a book you read through like a novel, but it is just amazing. Only four years in the making and for only one of the two villages originally intended for research! The biographies and family trees are comprehensive beyond belief. The descriptions on each color illustrated piece are comprehensive and lovingly written. And the artwork illustrated is diverse and beautiful! No wonder it is so heavy!! I really enjoy just admiring the pieces I might buy, and the work that went into the book.

Important Work on Savoonga (St. Lawrence Island, Alaska) Ivory Carvers

A most impressive and important book. The information about Savoonga and its carvers is a treasure-trove of information, listing the carving families and individuals. The photographs of the carvers and their works are exceptional. The author had originally intended to go to Gambell on St. Lawrence Island, but was waylaid by the weather and went to Savoonga instead. I can only hope that he will go to Gambell in the near future and will do a companion work on the ivory carvers there.


5.0 out of 5 stars