Taimyr bone carver shares his secrets

Taimyr bone carver shares his secrets

April 21, 2023

Aleksey Chunanchar told where he draws inspiration for his work and how the masters used to carve figurines.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Aleksey Chunanchar, a representative of the oldest Taimyr ethnic group, Nganasan, has been engaged in bone carving for 20 years.

He is not a hereditary master – the first bone carver in the family. His father was engaged only in cutting sledges. Alexey draws ideas for his works from the fairy tales of the North – often cruel, to match the harsh climate. He told about the intricacies of his work to the North People podcast host Suyumbeke Davlet-Kildeyeva.

The master does not draw sketches on paper, he makes them right on the horns, mostly deer antlers – the Taimyr House of Folk Art, where Aleksey works, buys them from family and tribal communities. Fortunately, deer shed their antlers every spring. But mammoth tusks are difficult to find, but they are often bought from fishermen and hunters – Taimyr, one might say, is a mammoth cemetery.

The master says that fantasy and nature itself suggest the plot for the figurines:

“I take a deer horn, there are no alike ones in the world. And I add a little – horns or paws, eyes. And so the form is already invented by nature”.

Recently he’s carved a White deer – the leader of the herd. It symbolizes goodness and power, protects. Such a figurine is a good amulet. Viewers look at many works for a long time and understand what is depicted on them only after the author’s explanation.

Previously, craftsmen soaked the horns in water for a long time, they became soft, and the figures were cut out with a knife, but now there is modern equipment – drills, almost like dentist’s ones, for coarse and fine processing.

It usually takes a week to create a figurine. Later it is exhibited at the House of Folk Art, participates in competitions. The master’s works are known throughout Russia and abroad.

Aleksey Chunanchar has visited many places, but he says he will not change his native Taimyr for anything. The polar day will soon come – the master’s favorite time, because during the day he works best.

Earlier, a large-scale craft forum was held in Dudinka, a Nganasan bone cutter in Ust-Avam created graffiti panels. Also, a Russian bone cutter created the world’s first stamp from walrus tusk.

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Text: Anzhelika Stepanova, Photos: Olga Zaderyaka and Nikolay Shchipko

April 21, 2023

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