Ivory traditionally comes from the tusk of an elephant, but the material may alsobe taken from the tusks of the hippopotamus, walrus, warthog, rhinocerous, or the narwhal, an Arctic marine mammal. An extremely dense material, ivory is essentially tooth enamel. |
Its pores are filled with an oily substance that adds luster to its polish and makes the ivory easier to carve. Most genuine ivory comes from Africa, but the harm caused to the animal populations which provide the ivory has led the trade to become heavily regulated.
Nonetheless, a good deal of poached ivory is exported through illegal trading. Ivory is porous and easily stained, and it also has a tendency to turn yellow with age. Ivory will bleach and turn lighter if left in sunlight for a prolonged period of time.