Dancer by Tom Tiulana, Inupiaq ivory, feathers, seal fur
5.5” high x3” wide x 1.5” deep
Tom Tiulana is an Inupiaq walrus ivory carver born into a prominent King Island, Alaska, family. His father, Paul Tiulana, was a talented carver with a dedication to preserving the family heritage and encouraged his children to put their artistic abilities to work. Under his guidance Tom, like his brothers, began carving at an early age.
In the early 1960’s due to economic and social pressures, King Islanders began to move to Nome, Alaska and other surrounding communities. By the 1970s no residents were left on King Island. The Tiulana family relocated to Nome and although they left their ancestral home, family and tradition remained very important to them. Today, King Islanders still maintain a very distinct cultural identity, managing to live a very similar life as they had on the island. All of the materials, including the walrus ivory and fossilized ivory, Tom uses in his art are gathered as part of the continuation of a subsistence lifestyle.
Tom is known for his detailed and expressive carved ivory Inupiaq dance figures. He also creates exceptional cribbage boards with scrimshaw and carvings of village scenes and arctic wildlife that demonstrate a patience and commitment to his craft. Additionally, Tom has worked on a variety of unique projects including making a traditional whale harpoon.