This is a piece of fossilized walrus ivory that features an Alaskan lynx. It is etched using the traditional art-form called scrimshaw, the decoration of bone or ivory objects, by Alaskan artist Dennis Sims of Houston, Alaska. It is about 1.5″ tall and 4″ wide and was used long ago by the Alaskan Eskimo people as a fire starter.
Scrimshaw was originally carved or engraved articles made by American whalers usually from baleen or whale teeth and bone. Native Alaskans have been using bone and ivory from walrus, mammoth and other animals for thousands of years as tools, utensils, weapons, and even armor. Today Alaskan artists use these same raw materials in their carvings and other scrimshaw artwork.