Baleen Basket with Seal Finial, c. 1980 Inupiaq Baleen, Walrus Ivory 4" high x 5" wide x 5" deep
Baleen Basketry is a an Alaska Native art made from whale baleen developed in Barrow, Point Hope, and Wainwright, Alaska by the North Alaskan Inupiaq. Created at the beginning of the 20th century, these baskets were based on traditional willow-root prototypes. Thin strips of baleen are cut and attached to walrus ivory disks at the start.
A coiling method is used to sew baleen bands together. Sometimes the basket is finished with a carved ivory finial as the handle. The early baleen baskets are originally made by men for sale to tourists. Over time, distinctive styles have developed, and since the 1970's more women have become involved in what was originally a predominantly male occupation.Expertly carved finials made by the Siberian Yup'ik of St. Lawrence Island and the Inupiaq of King Island.