LAGOS, NIGERIA: This is a summary of an article published in the April 2013 TRAFFIC BULLETIN by IIS members ESMOND MARTIN & LUCY VIGNE.
Nigerian craftsmen and traders have been dealing in elephant ivory for centuries. This was a follow-up to earlier studies dating back to 1999. It shows that Lagos remains the main center for the sale of worked ivory in Nigeria.
Most tusks are smuggled into Nigeria from Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, DRC, and Gabon according to vendors interviewed in Lagos.
During the survey 33 retail outlets had 14,200 ivory items on display. An estimates 91% were less than 10 cm including thousands of pieces of jewelry, name seals, chopsticks, Muslim rosaries, and bangles. At the Lekki Market the only customers seen buying were Chinese who were buying in bulk. The Chinese population increased from about 2,000 in 2001 to 100,000 in 2007. Western tourists did not purchase many souvenirs and took no interest in ivory.
No vendors admitted that the trade was illegal and would write receipts to say whatever the customers wished to make it easy to take the ivory abroad.
Parties in CITES should consider reinstating the CITES trade ban on Nigeria until the Government takes appropriate action to address the country’s blatant ivory trade.
SCRIMSHAW NEWS: This is from IIS member PETE DRISCOLL
This is a real breakthrough for me in Columbia , SC , our relatively new home - a full feature article in the October issue of Columbia Metropolitan Magazine! I won't write much about it (because I wish for you to read it), except to say that it happened because a friend here liked my work, bought one of my Bridges, and wrote to the editor about my scrimshaw.
Other "Happenings" include acceptance of a piece "The Gervais Street Bridge" in the SC State Fair; in September I began my term as president of the Log Cabin Art Guild, a 25 year old local artists' group; acceptance in the Village Artists Gallery, a co-op gallery at Sandhills in Columbia www.thevillageartists.com. I received two ribbons at this groups annual juried show earlier this year. I continue to do well at Artizan, www.artizansc.com, and enjoy being in this prestigious gallery. I presented my lecture on Scrimshaw at two gatherings, appreciated venues educating folks about the value of the original American art form we call scrimshaw. I've also joined the Trenholm Artists Guild www.trenholmartistsguild.org (TAG), another very active art organization here in Columbia since 1971.
OKIMONO: When talking aboutminiature sculptures, the first object that comes to our mind is the netsuke. Okimono, the larger ornamental carvings, are much less popular. They were made as ornaments for the tokonoma. Like netsuke, they represent Japanese habits and mythology. Buddhist idols and Noh masks inspired many artists when creating these miniature sculptures. They were made out of wood and ivory and very often sculptured by netsuke carvers during the Meiji period. Around the 18th century the use of ivory increased. At the beginning of this century, the samisen (a stringed instrument) music became very popular. The plectrum to play this instrument was made out of the centre part of the tusk of an elephant. The small pieces that were left over were ideal for the carving of netsuke and, at a later stage, okimono.
The Westernization brought far-reaching changes to Japan. Artists had to adapt their concepts to the demand of the Western world. As a result of the influence from the West, pockets were now added to the Japanese kimono, eliminating the need for netsuke. During the Meiji period netsuke were still produced for collectors, but more and more netsuke carvers began to focus on okimono. Because of the great demand for okimono for export, many artists started to produce objects of an inferior quality. However, there were also carvers that created beautifully sculptured okimono and followed the traditional high standard of their craft.
The classification of wood and ivory okimono can be done by school (such as Kyoto or Tokyo schools), but the merit of each object leads to two trends in okimono carving that make the classification more adequate. The first one sticks to the Japanese tradition and can be recognized by strong modeling with striking poses, flowing lines and strongly expressed emotions. Traces of round and flat chisel marks can be found on some of these okimono. For the Japanese art lovers these chisel marks have the same appeal as the brush strokes in painting. The demand from the West leads to the second trend where good craftsmanship was characterized by a smooth surface without chisel marks.