Eskimo Bola with Whale Tooth Weights

Item TB234                 

This Item was Sold on 7 December 2010 for $368

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This unusual item was purchased several years ago at an estate sale. It came in a small glass covered case marked as " Eskimo Bola with Whale Tooth Weights ". There are seven teeth of various sizes (lengths between 7 cm and 10 cm and root diameters between 1.5 cm and 4 cm) and weights (32 gm - 100 gm each). Each tooth is tied onto a fibre cord and all cords are tied together with a central knot as shown in the photo below. I have researched Eskimo bolas and cannot find anything like this in the literature, so it may not be of Eskimo origin. Most Eskimo bolas do have 3-8 weights and all weights are tied to a central knot. However, Eskimo bolas use thinner cordage or leather strips and most use smaller weights, such as fossilized Walrus teeth that have been drilled so that the cord can be easily tied without risk of loss due to unraveling. None of these whale teeth are pierced and it looks as if the teeth could slip out of the binding if the cordage loosens with use. The teeth do not appear to be very old because they do not have the dark yellow patina that you find on ancient whale teeth in museums. Of course, the coloring may be the result of storage in a dark, atmosphere controlled environment. I examined each tooth closely with a lens, looking to see if the teeth are plastic, but all of the teeth are different and I cannot find any moulding seams. Even the hole at the root of each tooth looks like what you would find on a real tooth. These teeth are too large to be that of a bear or a canine, but they are smaller than the Sperm Whale teeth that you find in museums. Therefore, I think that these are from a small or immature whale and it could be of Eskimo origin, but it could also be from another culture. I wish I could provide more information, but I do not have any expertise with Eskimo culture. You could possibly take the bola apart and use the teeth for a scrimshaw project? I would just leave the bola assembled and displayed in the framed box. I can ship this item only to a destination in the USA. It will cost more to ship the bola in the glass covered box than by itself. Tell me what you prefer. Length = 83 cm ; Weight = 336 gm

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