SCR19 - Eskimo Scrimshaw Walrus Ivory Smoking Pipe. 

Eskimos in on the western Alaskan Coast and Bering Straits region, familiar with smoking tobacco in pipes since the 1700s, when Russian traders and Chuckchi Eskimos from the Siberian side of the straits introduced pipe smoking to them.  With a more ready supply of walrus ivory than wood with which to fashion them, the Alaskan Eskimos quickly turned to ivory as a raw material, even while retaining the general form of the Asian pipes.  Better than wood and pewter, the ivory provided a better substrate for engraving the important aspects of Eskimo life, and the genre soon blossomed, especially since the pipes proved to be popular with visiting whalers and the gold miners that flocked to the Yukon gold fields in the late 1800s.  This pipe is a great example of this era, being unusually large and displaying the engraving techniques evident in the 1900 time frame.  The pipe is 16 inches long (as opposed to the more normal 10 to 13 inch length) and has the vertical curve of the walrus tusk, the emulates the Siberian prototype.  The length of the pipe was created by artfully adding a 5 ½ inch segment at the mouthpiece en of the pipe.  This section is original and artfully concealed by a decorative border that passes around the pipe stem This pipe is well covered with pictographs done in an engraving manner that bridges the early engraving technique to the later modified technique.  The pictographs are separated by a slanted edging that coils around the pipe stem from bowl to the added piece.  The pictographs portray vignettes of Eskimo life that are real and engagingly done.  Activities like whale hunting, walrus hunting, caribou, deer, and polar bear hunting are immediately recognizable.  Also portrayed are kayaks and umiaks (including umiaks under sail), and a single full rigged three mast sailing ship.  Both summer tupiks and winter dome style habitations are shown, as are dog sleds,  carrying game home on sleds, etc etc.  A final ornate touch is the pipe bowl.  Made from decorated walrus ivory.  The main bowl is an  1 ½ inches high and 1 ¼ inch diameter at the rim.  The bore of the bowl is only ¼ in diameter.  The small tobacco holding space is due to the communal manner in which the pipe was used.  It was passed around from person to person, each filling the bowl with his or her tobacco (sometimes filled out with fine wood chips).  The tobacco was lighted and then the smoke drawn in with one adeep whiff or drag, completely combusting the tobacco with one pull.   The bowl on this pipe is enhanced on its outside by two carved figures—one a walrus with tusks on the front of the bowl, and the other a bird with spread wings on the back side.  Not an eagle, this bird is clearly a Snowy Owl—more emblematic of the northern tundra than any other.  Other pipes in museum collections are ornamented by carvings of walrus, humans, bears, etc; but this is the first Snowy Owl that I’ve seen.  There has been some damage to bowl of this pipe.  Piece of the stem in front of the bowl had been broken away, and the left wing of the Snowy Owl had been broken at the elbow.  I’ve had this damage professionally restored, but not so well that the damage is completely hidden.  It is a great pipe.  Even with the damage Fine.










Price -  $2700.00   

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