Considering the excavation of mammoth ivory in Canada, Siberia and the Arctic regions, prehistoric mammoth ivory along with fossil ivory is one of the limited resources that connect mankind to the ancient eras. A piece of history preserved by time, best describes mammoth tusk ivory. Sometimes the tusks are unearthed during gold mining while other fossil ivory tusks have been found while archeologists were sifting through ancient Eskimo villages. Most of the tusks have been preserved well in permafrost, ash and soil.
Buried during the last ice age, wooly mammoths perished and became an extinct species while the carcasses that are dug up are prized for huge tusks that sell for high prices. Most of the mammoth ivory that is recovered from the permafrost has lay buried for over 11,000-12,000 years and is generally termed as fossil ivory even though the organic material is still soft to carve.
The colored bark of the ivory is due to the minerals in the soil and ice permeating into the ivory. Some of these are calcite, iron, quartz, silica and pyrite which start the process of recrystallization. Although these darkish brown old tusks look old, they are prized world over due to the quantity of legal ivory each has. These are prized and rare commodities that ivory carvers and collectors demand but even then the constant supply falls short as investment in mammoth ivory is lucrative as it is a limited resource. Whether you are looking to invest in a carved mammoth ivory or just a small netsuke made from pure legal ivory, you can browse a huge and authentic hand carved collection at http://www.mammothivory.org
The most prevalent ivory was African ivory which was used extensively during the 1400s to 1900s in Europe and Asia. It was only after 1989 that mammoth ivory completely replaced the demand for elephant ivory. Some of the key aspects of African tusk ivory are that it is not white but creamy in color and is amazing to work with. In most cases, it was procured fresh and thus the gelatinous substance from the pores gave it high flexibility as compared to hard and drier mammoth tusk ivory.
Additionally the fine crosshatching and grain structure gave it flexibility to be cut from any angle yet maintain strength and resistance to splinting. The natural oils gave it a peculiar mellow shine and rich luster as in any ivory. It is advised that once a year, all ivory sculptures that you have should be rubbed with oil.
Most of the African tusks of ivory are over 10 feet in length and the weight can exceed 200 pounds. However, there are inherent pulp cavities in the upper regions of the tusk, which creates a natural hollow. This requires exceptional skill of the artist to shallow carve bringing our translucent appeal. Cutting the area for maximizing the use of ivory was a delicate task especially when the core is hollow.
Generally, the tusks are 8 inch in diameter with solid ends that taper while the middle areas are round, which is used for carving. Intricate sculptures and carvings were done such that the patterns conformed to the shape of the ivory tusk. Even today, mammoth tusk ivory intricate carvings are designed such that they are done on the middle part of the ivory tusk.
The master artists used the hollowed out portion of the tusk to carve cups and tankards. Sometimes, they were sliced to form thin sheets of ivory, coveted by artists to watercolor miniature portraits. Additionally, the artists painstakingly shaved off parts of the designed compositions to give it thinness which led to heightened translucence.
Painting on ivory after sculpting it has been in vogue. The artists first etch and carve the desired patterns and then hand paint the details, giving it a realistic look. Exemplary art and artistry of the artists is visible in the delicate patterns and motifs that can be seen. The figures have hand-painted hair, tiny painted motifs and traditional patterns on the apparel. Ivory can be sculpted intricately adding manifold ways of translucency for better effects of the carving.
Planning on collecting and investing in Japanese netsuke? It is a specialized art and collectors pay top dollars for rare and antique netsuke. Though you might like a netsuke but is it worth the price? How do you determine which is the right one for your collection? We understand that there are various aspects of buying authentic antique netsuke, but the top considerations include:
Artist’s skill levels: The price of the mammoth ivory netsuke depends upon the skill of the artist. From crude sculptures in ivory and wood to high quality detailed artwork, all levels of talent can be seen. Seasoned collectors can recognize the locale where the netsuke was produced and check for authentic signatures. However, it takes years to be able to judge and evaluate netsuke, but you can always consult a professional collector to assist you with the evaluations.
Authenticity: To know if the netsuke is authentic or not, is difficult as signatures can be forged easily. Only a netsuke expert is able to accurately match and identify the marks, signature, style and age of the netsuke along with the artistry strokes of different artists. Consult an expert if you intend investing in antique netsuke.
Condition and state of netsuke: Although antique netsuke will show wear but it should not be so much that the value of the netsuke tumbles. Original and used antique netsuke might be chipped, tiny repairs, cracked and restored but it should be negligible. The price will depend upon the condition and rarity of the item.
Rarity of the netsuke subject: If the subject is rare, such as Baku, (mythical animal that eats nightmares/bad dreams) or rare animals, it can be priced higher. As netsuke collectors specialize in particular subjects- mythical animals, legends and even daily activities, some netsuke are more in demand than others. Prices vary accordingly.
Additionally, there are specific areas and schools of netsuke production such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and more which have their own styles. Seasoned netsuke collectors are able to differentiate between the different styles. Some of the well-known netsuke artists are Kokusai, Toyomasa, Okatomo, Kaigyokusai and Tomotada that command top dollars for their carvings.
Only the most famous netsuke artist’s signature commands a high price. The key consideration in price is the rarity, originality, quality of hand carving and the artistic appeal of the netsuke. Generally high quality netsuke, both old and new range from few hundred dollars to few thousands of dollars, depending on these considerations.
Even though the elephant ivory trade was completely banned in 1989 due to the drastic decline of the elephants all over the world, the demand for ivory art remained. Today the collectors and patrons of ivory have their fill of the artistic delights, with the prized antique mammoth tusk ivory.
The extinct wooly mammoths perished completely at the end of the ice age nearly 10,000- 12,000 years ago, but the rich fossils have yielded huge ivory tusks that are completely legal for sale, as the animal is extinct. The connotation of uber-affluence and classic aristocracy remains with ivory and refuses to end the allure of the limited, yet prized material.
Difference in elephant ivory and fossil ivory
The most unique aspect about mammoth ivory is that it is extremely similar in color and textures to elephant ivory yet their remains a major difference. Ivory is enamel and both the ivories carry an inherent pattern which is easily recognized, if you have details. Mammoth ivory has criss-cross V-shaped fine patterns while elephant ivory has more concentric circle patterns. This is visible to naked eye or you can use a hand-lends to notice the patterns which are visible on the bottom or on areas with no carving.
Though mammoth ivory has been used for centuries by the native Eskimos in the arctic regions, it came into focus worldwide as fossil ivory after the ban on elephant ivory. Though in the rarest of rare finds, male tusks have grown to 16 feet but most of the pieces and complete tusks, range in length from 5 ft to 8 ft, though longer tusks have been excavated. This leaves quite a lot of material to work with. Complete tusks have been intricately carved, becoming impressive art pieces commanding prices in several thousands of dollars. It is the rarity and limited supply of fossil ivory combined with exquisite carvings and sculpture that makes it so prized and unique.
Hues and colors of ivory
Another unique aspect of mammoth ivory that differentiates it from elephant ivory is the color scales found in fossil ivory. Due to being buried under the permafrost for eons, the organic enamel in the mammoth tusks absorbed the surrounding soil minerals, giving the milky white ivory hues of blues and browns. Apart from carved pieces of ivory, raw ivory is also available for sale, mounted on wooden stands or just as pieces.
If you are looking for an exquisite piece of one –off ivory carvings, there is a strong possibility that you might find something in your budget, from netsuke to full-tusks, select the piece that suits your requirement at http://www.mammothivory.info