Tupilak

East Greenland
c1930
Antler
H 14.6cm

 

Greenland: 
The Inuit of Greenland traditionally shared many of the artistic expressions found in the Canadian Arctic. Small figures and amulets were fashioned out of antler and ivory while graphic expression was limited to tattoo marks, clothing patterns and decoration on tools. However, the dominating influence of Europeans came centuries earlierthan in the Canadian Arctic so that Greenlandic art became a mix of Inuit traditional artists expression with western style. The one form of traditional art which survived is the tupilak. Once an important part of Greenlandic religious beliefs these shaman/monster depictions were considered immensely powerful and mystical. Over the last half century, the distinctive characteristics of traditional tupilaks, such as animal like form, clutching hands and large mouths have become popular. The tradition carries on through today with several of the Inuit communities still creating these complex, strange sculptures.

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