Description of Tupilak #16

This striking sitting tupilak (#16) captivates with its fierce fangs and numerous teeth, expertly carved from a sperm whale tooth. Standing at 5.2 inches high, 1.7 inches wide, and 2.3 inches deep, this tupilak showcases an intricately carved figure on its back. Moreover, the unknown artist has masterfully brought this piece to life. Please note, this remarkable tupilak has already been sold.

Overview of Tupilaks

Tupilaks, spiritual figures in Greenlandic Inuit culture, historically empowered their makers to cast spells on enemies. Initially, these figures were primarily carved from sperm whale teeth. However, modern tupilaks now emerge from various materials, including narwhal and walrus tusks, wood, and caribou antlers. Consequently, these figures have become iconic in Inuit art.

Historical Significance and Evolution

Early European explorers, enchanted by the legends of tupilaks, inspired the Inuit to create tangible representations. Over the past century, these carvings have transformed significantly in form and material. Now, tupilaks appear in diverse shapes and sizes, making them highly coveted as collectibles. Thus, they stand as a testament to Greenlandic Inuit artistic heritage.

Modern Interpretations

In contemporary times, tupilak figures often feature striking skeletal motifs. These designs possibly symbolize mythical figures or spirits of the dead. Furthermore, these figures represent spirits that manifest in both human and animal forms, blending characteristics of both seamlessly.

Additional Resources

To dive deeper into the art and history of Greenlandic Inuit sculptures and crafts, consider exploring this book on the subject.

Additionally, discover more about tupilaks and browse a selection of these fascinating artworks at Tribal Crafts.

two figure sitting tupilak

Artist unknown    Inuit

Ivory tupilak – 5.2 x 1.7 x 2.3 inches