Polar art on bones

On Čukotka, on far Russian northeast, it blossoms rich art of carving on bones with elements not known to any other  arctic region- by complex scenes and characters  whose appearance changes  depending on cult of observation. This thousand years old tradition maintain rich spiritual life and worldview of citizens of this polar region. Arctic nations on far north east for few thousand years express their artistic experiences and rich spiritual life by artistic bone carving. When you take the statue made of bones in hands, under the different corner you can see an animal, and a human, and some of the deities. This variety express and the faith of Arctic hunters on sea calves in the capacity of people and beasts to transform one into other.

Animal bones in every day life are used for thousand years. From the bones of walrus, whale and north deer the ancestors of Čukča and Eskimos  made needles, dishes and the sharp ends of harpoons. Approximately in first millennium before new era people on all of these things started to paint motives and ornaments connected to their believes  and idea of evil and good spirits. Like that the first artistic pieces of carving in bones appeared. Apart from everyday things made of bones with painted motives with time the statues of different animals appeared which were used as talismans. Like that, for example, the duck made of walrus tusk has double function- it was used as child toy but as talisman as well which has in it the force of good. Archaeologists on Čukotka found things made of bones which presents real pieces of art of first art. From the end of 19th century on Čukotka appeared unique things of painting art, not known in any other Arctic region. It is the word about whole walrus tusks totally covered with carved scenes from the life of growers of north deer and hunters on walrus and sea calves.

Todays masters of Čukotka, like two thousand years before, for material use deer horns and walrus tusks. Their painting still presents everyday life and mythology of Čukča and Eskimos. It is interesting that it was preserved till today “diversity” of handmade things.

When you take in your hand the statue of animal made of bones, under different corners you can see animal, or human or some of the deities. This principle of expression express old belief of Arctic nations in deep connection of nature, human and different spirits, but also the belief of Arctic hunters on sea calves in capacity of people and beasts to transform one into other. Special place  in carving art on Čukotka has the character of Pelican, shrimp with the big smile and big round stomach. Nobody knows when the character appeared and where it came from. In current beliefs of citizens Pelican is the god of joy which brings happiness in the house.

Today on Čukotka works few studios for bone carving. The oldest among them is Uelenskikostorezbarski studio. Its fame was spread over the borders ofRussia. Uelen is the most north east inhabited place in Russia and Euro Asia. Products of Uelenskogkostorezbarski studio were shown to the public for the first time in 1937., on the exhibition in Tretyakov gallery inMoscow. This exhibition was a real sensation and the world found out about this unique art of Čukča and Eskimos.Today the arts of old and modern artists of bone carving can be seen in different museums of the world, fromMoscowtoSaint PetersburgtoParisandNew York.

If you want you can get the handicrafts of Čukota’s master’s of carving, just contact agency Atlantis Travel.

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