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whale bone carving

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Toronto, Canada
posts: 6
whale bone carving

Does anyone know the availability of whale bone carvings and rules regarding taking these out of the country? I would like to buy a small piece as a souvenir.

4 replies to this topic
posts: 1,211
reviews: 35
1. Re: whale bone carving

You will find it pretty difficult to come across a bona fide whale bone carving in Tonga; most of what is sold is cow bone, regardless of how the seller might identify it. There is very limited access to whale bones - they have to come from dead whales that washed up on shore, or from old skeletons on the sea floor that are found by divers, and neither of those circumstances happen very often.

If you do find an actual whale bone carving, the legality of carrying it into another country depends on where you are going; you'll need to research that country's laws. But as far as I know, there is no prohibition on taking whale bone carvings out of Tonga.

Vientiane, Laos
Destination Expert
for Vientiane
posts: 2,101
reviews: 206
2. Re: whale bone carving

You can buy very good real whalebone carvings from A man called Sitiveni Fehoko - he has a showroom at his house a little out of Nukualofa past the wharves. His numbers are on www.fehokoart.com

There are also a few stalls in the market that sell some real whalebone carvings and teeth, though they are not cheap. There is a good art stall in the middle of the floor upstairs that has whalebone.

However - whale bone is covered by CITES regulations so you can't legally take it into any country that has signed up to this UN treaty - which includes most western countries. You can take whalebone out of Tonga easily, (even though it is a signatory to CITES - they do not enforce it) but you can get big fines at the other end if you do not declare it and are caught.

If its just a key ring or small piece you could always say you thought it was cowbone.

posts: 1,211
reviews: 35
3. Re: whale bone carving

I'll second the recommendation regarding Sitiveni Feihoku - he's an old friend and an excellent craftsman, especially regarding wood carving.

posts: 3
4. Re: whale bone carving

Whale bone and cow bone are very different from each other and it is very easy to tell the difference. There are a lot of very charming cow bone carvings available in Tonga and I don't know of anyone claiming that they are whale bone. There is whale bone that has washed up on the beach. It is very identifiable as it is very porous and not bright white like cow bone which can be polished to an ivory looking finish. In Vava'u The Megapode, and Leonati at the market and in Nuku'alofa Sitiveni Fehoko have whalebone carvings.

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