Scrimshaw Sperm Whale Tooth, mid-20th Century

Description
This large sperm whale tooth has a satyr-like male figure with a horned mask posed in two scenes on obverse and reverse in a sexual embrace with a full-bodied maenad, or mythological female figure associated with the Roman god Bacchus. The subjects of this tooth, along with their shading and poses, argue for a modern carver, who worked freehand. In the 19th century Victorian period, such a tooth would have offended contemporary sensibilities; as a consequence, authentic erotic scrimshaw of the period is exceedingly rare.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
scrimshaw
scrimshaw tooth, whale
date made
mid 20th century
Physical Description
whale tooth (overall material)
scrimshaw (overall production method/technique)
Measurements
overall: 5 3/4 in x 3 in x 1 3/4 in; 14.605 cm x 7.62 cm x 4.445 cm
ID Number
1978.0052.29
accession number
1978.0052
catalog number
1978.52.29
subject
Cultures & Communities
Scrimshaw
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
Scrimshaw
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Wilbur J. Gould
Additional Media

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