Inuit voodoo

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 corpsesContinue reading “Inuit voodoo”

Local expertise

In the small hunting village of Isortoq local hunters pored over our maps. They saw the terrain in terms of wildlife needed for their families to survive: Fjord seals here, guillemots there, Bladder-nosed seals further out in the current. But what they recognised most urgently was that more violent icecap winds, or pitoraqs, would be howling downContinue reading “Local expertise”

Outdoor kitchen

Unlike the meat shelves at your local supermarket, with bits of lamb or beef wrapped in clear plastic, in East Greenland your fresh seal meat was butchered on the lawn. It was clean, and easily done using a traditional ulu or curved knife held in a fist grip. The ulu was also used to remove all the hair fromContinue reading “Outdoor kitchen”

Last polar hunters

While this intriguing photo from the turn of the century may look dramatic, what we are seeing is truly incredible people who typically are very intelligent and incredibly adaptable. They designed remarkably complex frames for high-performance hunting kayaks using only driftwood and sinew as raw materials. These kayaks were covered with a tight-fitting cloth made from scraped sealskins assembled using anContinue reading “Last polar hunters”

Old and new

Traditional Greenland costume, involving many thousands of beads and winter bleached skins, would probably take half a year to make. These wonderful women from Tasiilaq, East Greenland, are probably dressed up to celebrate Greenland’s national day, celebrated on 21st June, the day of the summer solstice. The original East Greenland costume was much plainer than this,Continue reading “Old and new”