Tupilak #12: A Masterpiece of Greenlandic Inuit Art

Description and Dimensions

To start with, Tupilak #12 captivates with its long, crawling form and intricate details. Moreover, this exquisite piece, carved by an unknown Inuit artist, features a smiling face, a protruding tongue, fangs, and numerous teeth. Its dimensions are:

  • Length: 7 inches
  • Width: 1.75 inches
  • Height: 2.3 inches

Historical and Cultural Significance

First and foremost, tupilaks hold a special place in Greenlandic Inuit culture. For centuries, shamans used these spiritual figures to cast spells on their enemies. Furthermore, today tupilaks still evoke their mystical origins, often depicting human and animal forms.

Evolution and Materials

Initially, early European explorers encountered Inuit legends and eagerly sought physical representations of tupilaks. Consequently, Inuit artists began carving them from sperm whale teeth. Over the past century, artisans have expanded their material palette to include:

  • Narwhal tusk
  • Walrus tusk
  • Wood
  • Caribou antler

As a result, this diversity in materials highlights the adaptability and enduring appeal of tupilak art.

Symbolism and Modern Interpretations

Additionally, modern tupilak carvings frequently feature skeletal motifs and rib indications, which may represent mythical figures or spirits of the dead. Moreover, these designs emphasize the tupilaks’ historical role as bringers of misfortune. By blending human and animal characteristics, these figures reflect the shamanistic belief in the interconnectedness of all spirits.

Collectible Significance

In summary, collectors highly prize tupilaks for their artistic beauty and cultural depth. Not only do these figures showcase the craftsmanship of the Greenlandic Inuit, but they also preserve a rich spiritual heritage.

For more detailed information, explore additional tupilaks at Tribal Crafts. For a deeper dive into Greenlandic Inuit art, check out Art of Greenland: Sculpture Crafts by Bodil Kaalund.

long ivory crawler tupilak

Artist unknown    Inuit

Ivory crawling tupilak  – 2.3 x 7.1 x 1.75 inches