This is how I carve a traditional symbol called a Hei Matau (stylized fishing hook). A Hei Matau, also known as a hawaiian hook or a Maori hook is an ancient Polynesian symbol of strength, speed, and ability to provide. It's also fabled to protect people who are traveling over water.
This particular hook has a wooden shank and a bone barb. Usually hooks are made entirely out of bone or shell, but once in awhile you'd see a larger hook made like this. The polynesians did not really have access to large bones suitible for making large hooks, so they typically used stone, shells, or an inlaw's femur. Whalebone is brittle and difficult to carve, however is was usable after years of preparation.
The Hei Matau originated in Maori legend. Maori's are the original natives of New Zealand. The legend is that a man cought the north island of new zealand (which, at that time, was an enormous fish) with a hook he made out of his grandmothers jawbone (Maori's were never know to be very sentimental).
Obviously, since catching a fish the size of a habitable island is a pretty manly thing to do, this guy went down in history and was forgiven for carving his grandmother's JAW BONE into a fishing hook.
These hooks were originally carved by filing away at a bone with a piece of rough coral. Since this method takes pretty much 300 years to make a hook, I use a jewelers saw, bandsaw, sandpaper, and files.
I have lots of great projects like this on my blog here!
Like this hook? Check it out on my etsy!
If you are having trouble finding bone, I have an online material and source list at the bottom of this post.