All about Carving Mammoth Ivory Figurines
Owning a mammoth ivory figurine is a measure of a connoisseur wealth all across the world and there are various reasons for it. The rarity and exclusiveness of the antique ivory figurines is one of the reasons. Sourced from the tusks of the extinct wooly mammoths, it is a painstaking procedure to harvest and carve it. This makes it especially rare and expensive.
Another important aspect that adds value to the figurines is that all of them are hand-made. It is only done by the master artists that have years of experience working with different ivories. Only they are capable of properly polishing and shaping the ivory in precise manner with an eye for details. Unlike other ivories sourced from walrus and spear whales, only pieces of tusks that are in good condition, such as chunks or smaller pieces are used for carving the figurines. The inartistic carving quality of the ivory, coloration and thickness of the figurine is judged before the prices are fixed.
You may have seen mammoth ivory figurines with specks of different colors or even large streaks cutting across the milky luster. However, that is not a sign that it is a fake. It is absolutely genuine but the color is acquired as the tusks lay buried under the tundra and absorbed the soil minerals over eons. The different minerals and metals give different colors to the ivory. Zinc or copper leave a greenish color while rust or brown color is due to the presence of iron. Thus, depending on the soil where it was buried, ivory being organic material absorbed the natural hues.
Types of utility carvings
Male tusks are over 14-16 feet in length and weigh over 50-60 kilograms. However, this is a rather rare find, but there are examples of even heavier tusks reaching up to 90 kilograms. However, most of figurines are crafted from smaller or chunks that have broken away from the main tusk. There are various pieces of ivory decorations but probably the most common ones are knives and chess pieces. Owning a full set of chess figurines carved out of mammoth ivory shows taste and is perfect for ivory aficionados because it is difficult to procure and is expensive. Apart from these, mammoth ivory figurines include religious saints, crosses, and decorative figurines tracing the traditional themes of Oriental designs. Even netsuke or miniature sculptures are popular collectibles. Ranging in intricate delineated patterns and figurines copied from daily life or of Gods, the traditional artwork is exemplary. You can find Foo Dogs, zodiac animals; Samurai warriors to fishermen, geishas and animals to scenes from everyday life, the skilled artists have captured them all in mammoth ivory.
The business of selling mammoth ivory figurines adheres to some really serious international legal provisions that are putting the trade within lawful boundaries. However, ever since the international ban of elephant ivory, the only other natural ivory that is capable of replacing it on the market is the mammoth ivory and that has made it a popular material for carving.