Inuit voodoo

tupilaqs

East Greenland is famous for its tupilaqs. These beautiful examples carved from whale teeth, walrus and narwhal ivory are not in fact the real tupilaqs, but representations of them. The real tupilaqs were fashioned by a shaman or angakkek and made from various objects such as animal parts (bone, skin, hair, sinew, etc.) and even parts taken from the corpses of children. The creature was given life by ritualistic chants and placed into the sea to seek and destroy a specific enemy, similar to voodoo. Because tupilaqs were made in secret, in isolated places and from perishable materials, none have been preserved. Early European visitors to Greenland, fascinated by the native legend, were eager to see what tupilaqs looked like so the Inuit began to carve representations of them out of teeth or ivory. Today, tupilaqs of many shapes and sizes are highly prized as collectibles.

Published by earldeblonville

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