Eye Appealing Sculpture
At Tribal Expressions we highlight three dimensional images. From clay to stone, to wood and bone, our sculptures range from mini-stone fetishes to heavy marble and bronze. Whether you collect strict traditional styles or modern contemporary, Tribal Expressions is one place where you can learn about, observe, compare, and examine a wide variety of Native three dimensional work.
What makes sculpture a unique experience is the fact that it must be observed over time to be understood. Free standing sculpture is intended to be viewed from changing vantage points to observe how the form evolves. The interplay of light on and across the surface accentuates its form and texture. Precision detail, lifelike action, fresh composition, and a carefully studied perspective, balance and proportion are some of the hallmarks of Tribal Expressions sculpture.
At Tribal Expressions we try to select sculpture in accordance with artistic conventions of composition and balance. Whether realistic in every detail or an abstraction, we often show carvings that reveal the inherent beauty of the material used. The best materials Creator has to offer.
Combining a sensitivity for Mother Earth, with powers of careful observation, hunting societies have continuously demonstrated an ability to sift the relevant from extraneous. Native artists provide us with examples of this priceless ancestral inheritance in the form of stone, wood, and bone carvings. We are particularly proud of our diversity. From pocket size stone fetishes to table size focal points, Native carving of ivory, wood and whalebone all contribute to the galleries sculptural appeal.
Soapstone is the popular name for the mineral composite steatite. It is classified by geologists as silicate, a relatively soft stone that is insoluble in water and easy to carve. Soapstone is widely dispersed and commonly found in quarries of regionally metamorphosed rocks (schists). Mixtures of various minerals exist within any given deposit and yield stone with characteristic color and hardness.
Soapstone occurs in a variety of hues and differing intensities ranging from bone white, through ochre, pink, orange, green, and brown. It is sometimes found in black and gray. Some stone has one dominant color. Many have agate like banding, others are mottled.
Skillful carving and polishing brings out the natural color and pearly luster of soapstone. Reading the stone is very important. A carvers goal is to break down the stone to its most solid form before working. Most carvers inspect each stone for fractures. Simple twisting with minimal strength or watching for fractures as a wet stone dries are techniques used to cut out and work around fractures that occur naturally in the stone.
Stone carving skills develop over time. Procedural knowledge enables a master carver to become proficient manipulating the stone to new and different ends. the master carver distinguishes work with conceptual originality, skillful carving and meticulous finish. Please accept our invitation to learn how tactically soothing, aesthetically pleasing and spiritually fulfilling Tribal Expressions sculpture can be. Our inventory includes Inuit polar bear carved in stone, Alaskan seal and walrus carved in whalebone, otters and owls made of ivory. We also have the wonderfully appealing Hopi Katsinas, Zuni fetishes, Northwest Coast masks and wood bowls.
At the core of the Inuit system of beliefs was the myth of Sedna, of a young girl who after a series of events undergoes a supernatural metamorphosis to become the mother of the sea animals. In the Inuit mythological framework, Sedna personified both the tragedies of life and the mysteries of creation. Her great power came from her control of the sea animals on which the people depend for their survival.
Sedna was the guardian of the animals and mistress of land and sea. Ruling through evil spirits, tornaq, Sedna made sure that all souls, human and animal,were shown respect according to ancient rules of life. She could make the animals visible and easy to hunt, or invisible so humans went hungry. She could punish with sickness or injury for breaking behavioral rules. Inuit shamen, angakok, paid visits to sedna to placate her by combing or braiding disheveled hair, or overpowering her to force her to release animals for the hunt.
Alone among the bear to be classified as a marine mammal, the polar bear is the world’s largest non-aquatic carnivore. At the apex of the polar food chain, polar bear have no natural enemies, with the exception of man. Polar bear have a fondness for sleep, a passion for eating, and demonstrate intelligence by a healthy curiosity for anything that enters its environment.
Polar bear live almost entirely on ringed seals, and to a lesser degree on bearded seals. They are known to prey on young walrus and occasionally capture narwhales and belugas. Polar bear migrate seasonally with changes in the ice pack in accordance with annual formation and retreat of sea ice.
Well adapted to the frigid environment. Polar bear have dense translucent fur that transmits ultra-violet radiation to the skin. Each hair shaft is pigment-free and transparent with a hollow core. Polar bear feet have hairy pads to assist in movement over ice and swimming in water. They have huge paws to distribute body weight on thin ice and make the bear a swift and powerful swimmer. Crawling with the aid of large padded paws for weight distribution, a 900-pound bear can cross a stretch of thin ice that would break under the weight of an average man.
In addition to insulating fur, the bears’ blubber can measure 4.5 inches thick. Blubber protects the bear from cold and adds buoyancy in the water. Polar bears are champion swimmers. A polar bear is capable of swimming up to 60 miles non-stop in sub-freezing waters, but running can seriously overheat a bear in just two minutes because they are so well insulated they suffer virtually no heat loss.
Inuit call them "Nanuk." Eighteenth-century scientists named them Ursus maritimus, meaning “sea bear,” a reference to the bears’ relation with Arctic’s chilly waters. In Norway they are called “Ice bear,” because they spend most of their lives on the sea ice. More slender than most other bear, with longer necks, they are also the most carnivorous, feeding on seals and young walrus. They have good vision and a keene sense of smell. At the apex of the food chain, polar bear often represent spirit helpers of the shaman.
In the wild, adult polar bear live an average of 15 to 18 years. A few tagged bear lived into their early 30’s and one captive lived in a London zoo to the age of 41.
“The current minimum estimate of the total number of polar bears occupying the 20 distinct populations in circumpolar Arctic is 22,000.” According to an agreement for the conservation of Polar Bears signed in 2001 by the five polar bear nations, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the USA. Today polar bear are distributed throughout their historical range. Harvest regulations have allowed bear populations to recover and remain stable in recent years.
Polar bears are the third most popular animal after elephants and whales.
Inuit polar bear carvings, whether dancing, diving, stalking or sniffing, are sure to win your heart. The Alaskan Eskimo counterparts, carved in whalebone, ivory and antler represent some of the best sculptural values at Tribal Expressions.
A prominent figure in aboriginal art and folklore, this distinctive bird has come to symbolize the beauty and romance of Canadian wilderness. Known for its compelling cry, which echoes across Canadian lakes in summer, the common loon has webbed feet, heavy bones, short legs, making them strong swimmers, agile divers, that can twist, turn, and pivot faster than most fish.
Oomingmak is "the harry one" in the Inuit language. The Musk ox, which has no musk glands and is not a member of the ox family, has changed little since prehistoric times. Extremely downey under wool, grown every fall and shed every spring, keep the animal comfortable down to 100 degrees below zero. The under wool called quviut (KIV-EE-UTE) is eight times warmer by weight than sheep's wool, yet is lighter than the finest cashmere goat. Mature bulls shed one and one-half pounds per year compared to less than a pound produced by a goat. Musk ox thrive on tundra grass, lichens, and moss. They have become so numerous permits allow for hunting for meat and fur.
A small dorsal fin located just aft of the midpoint between the head and tail; an exceptionally large head, up to 1/3 the total length; exceptionally long flippers, scalloped at the front margins; throat groves or pleats in the ventral pouch beneath the lower jaw bone, estimated to hold about 15,000 gallons of water at a time; and numerous wart like tubercles on its head with bristles or hairs at their center; characterize the humpback whale. It is also identified by its dark black dorsal area and contrasting whitish patches on its flippers and light underbelly.