Inuit tupilak #26 has been carved from a large sperm whale tooth by master Inuit carver Mathias Ulriksen from the village of Kulusuk. There is a smiling face with many teeth on the tupilak. Additionally, there is a seal on its head. The tupilak arms are stretched out. At the bottom of the tupilak is a third figure with fangs, arms and legs. The tupilak is 6.5” high, 1.75” wide, and 2.5” deep. Tupilak #26 has been SOLD.

Tupilaks are a form of Greenlandic Inuit art that has existed for many centuries. Tupilaks depict spiritual creatures. Historically, tupilaks were used to cast spells on the enemies of the tupilak maker. Our selection of tupilaks are in the human and animal forms.

Early European visitors to Greenland, fascinated by the native legend, were eager to see what tupilak looked like, so the Inuit began to carve representations of them out of sperm whale teeth. During the past century, tupilak of many different shapes and sizes are carved from various materials such as narwhal, walrus tusk, wood, and caribou antler. They are an important part of Greenlandic Inuit art, and are highly prized as collectibles.

Modern erect figures have characteristic skeleton parts or the indication of ribs of the tupilak – possibly represent a mythical figure instead. The tupilak were bringers of misfortune, but they could be vanquished. The skeleton motif that decorates tupilak figures presumably may also belong to the spirits of the dead. Spirits having definite animal shapes often would reveal in human form, but naturally themselves in human form and with the characteristics of an animal.

large three figure tupilak

Mathias Ulriksen    Inuit

Ivory tupilak – 6.5 x 1.75 x 2.5”