• Kalamazoo

    Call for papers - Middle Ages

    Walruses, Whales and Narwhals

    Maritime Ivories in Western Europe, 900-1500

    In the history of carved ivories, maritime mammals have often been eclipsed by the elephant, considered as a nobler ivory to which walrus or whale ivory would only be a poor man's substitute. But this historiographical view is not without its shortcomings, as not only did walrus hunting play a significant role in the first European explorations toward the west, but the trade for those ivories went as far as the Islamic world and even the Far East. This session at the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, sponsored by the National Museum of Scotland, aims to address the variety of questions posed by the maritime ivories: how the raw material was collected, how it was traded, the workshops that carved them and their specific symbolic value in medieval treasuries

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