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Publishers WeeklyStarred Review.
"Gifts from the ancestors" is how modern Arctic people refer to the ancient carvings they find in the permafrost around their dwelling places; digging for these valuable pieces has become an important part of Arctic subsistence culture. This volume, accompanying the Princeton University Art Museum exhibition, comes from experts at the Smithsonian (Fitzhugh), the Arctic Studies Center in Anchorage (Crowell), and De Paul University (Hallowell), makes an exceptional reference work on a little-known tradition, despite the fact that ivories are generally sold by Native Americans without any information on how they were found or what other artifacts were associated with them (meaning that much important information about the Bering Sea's ancient cultures is lost forever). Twenty international scholars contribute essays, describing what is currently known from archaeological investigations in Alaska and Siberia. M. M. Bronshtein, of the Russian State Museum of Oriental Art, provides a lengthy description of a hunter's grave, demonstrating how much information can be gleaned from artifacts in context. Other essays compare artistic traditions from different eras and Bering Sea locations, and attempt to place them in terms of culture, religion and lifeways. A final section explores contemporary Arctic cultures, and the new art of ivory carving; the personal closing essay comes from Susie Silook, a contemporary carver. 70 b&w and 272 color illus.
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