Friday, October 2, 2015

Don's Blog Greenland X Tupilak

In Greenlandic the word tupilak  means an ancestor's soul or spirit. In Greenlandic legend a tupilak was an avenging monster made by an Inuit  shaman using objects such as animal parts. It was reportedly given life by ritualistic chants and then was placed in the sea to seek out and destroy a specific enemy. No early tupilaks were preserved. For many decades Inuit carvers have been making tupilak representations out of animal parts including walrus, caribou, whale, and musk ox.

Here is a Greenland tupilak from a walrus tusk that I acquired many years ago from a trading post dealing in Inuit art in Door County Wisconsin.

Many of the stores in Nuuk, the capital city, were selling tupilaks. Below is a tupilak carved out of caribou antler that I purchased in Nuuk. The difference in the skill of the carvers is noticeable.

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