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These immitation elk teeth, known as "elk ivories" are 1 1/4"L x 5/8"W (3.175cm x 1.5875cm). They have a hole drilled in the root end to sew them onto fabric, or you can insert a jumpring or ear wires to make a pendant or earrings. They also make great trinkets for use on purses, medicine bags, dance staffs, rattles, and other artifact replicas.
In the Prehistoric era, North American elk (aka wapiti) had ivory tusks. Today, these vestigal tusks (found in the upper jaw, toward the back of the mouth) are referred to as elk "ivories." Each elk has only two ivory teeth.
In many native american cultures, it was a sign of wealth and prestige to have the top half of your dress covered with elk ivory teeth. Because only two “ivories” could be obtained from each elk killed, it could take decades, or even generations to obtain enough elk ivories to cover a dress.
A woman who owned such a dress either had a husband who was a very skilled hunter, or was weathly enough to buy many elk teeth from others. As a result elk teeth were highly prized for their decorative value. Even today these elk “ivories” are very much in demand.
Each year the price of a matched pair goes up and up,and you have to be lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time just to run into someone who is willing to sell or trade a pair of genuine elk teeth. Then once you locate some that are for sale, you can expect to pay dearly for them. And you will rarely find one person who has enough to adorn a dress, so you will have to be lucky many, many times.
Because of the high price for real elk ivories, and their scarcity in our modern world, today there are several styles of budget priced simulated elk teeth available that look very similar to a real ivory elk tooth.
At any northern Powwow you will see Native American women in beautiful traditional dresses adorned with immitation elk teeth that look very much like the real thing, and of course you still see dresses adorned in real elk teeth that have been handed down between generations, too!