Inuit Arts

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New updated version; prints, stone carvings, baskets and tapestry from native Arctic peoples

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Inuit Arts

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Enookie Akulukjuq Pangnirtung, Baffin Island, Canada Ptarmigan in Spring

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“ Inuit ”, meaning “the people”, is a general designation for the Arctic native peoples: Greenlandic Inuit, Siberian and Alaskan Yupik, Aleutians…

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Inuit communities live in arctic environment, territories such as Greenland, Canada’s Arctic Islands and around Hudson Bay, northeast of Siberia and northern Alaska ( Iñupiaq ). In a land of snow and rock, Inuit artists work with the limited materials available : whale bone, walrus ivory, stone, fur, driftwood and lyme grass from the beach. Figurative works are carved in relatively soft stone, like soapstone or serpentine; or printed as lithographs using the stonecut technique. Most works represent nature’s fauna – owls and loons, whales and seals, bears and caribous; but also hunters and mythical beings.

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Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Nunavut - Canada Musk Ox , serpentine

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Nuna Parr Cape Dorset, Nunavut - Canada Walking Bear , serpentine

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Cape Dorset, Baffin Island, Canada Loon , serpentine

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Itulu Itidluie (b. 1947) Cape Dorset, Canada Loon , serpentine

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Barrow, Alaska Ivory Kayak

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Barrow, Alaska (Inupiak) Tool Box wood and baleen ivory

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Tasiilaq, East Greenland Wooden ivory box

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Tasiilaq, East Greenland Harpoon and Spear throwing stick Decorated with ivory seals

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Ammassalik, East Greenland Water bucket

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Greenland Sedna sitting

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Judah Natanine Clyde River, Baffin Island,Canada Sedna and daughter

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Looti Pijamini Grise Fjord, Ellesmere island, Canada Sedna , walrus ivory

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Looti Pijamini Two mothers

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My first carving was a small arctic fox made of wood, carved with a small pocketknife. I learned from my father who was carving ivory at that time. He would trade these small carvings to men from the early freighter ships. This was long before anyone else was carving... Osuitok Ipeelee (1923-2005 ) Cape Dorset, Baffin Island

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Osuitok Ipeelee Caribou , soapstone

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Osuitok Ipeelee Caribou , 1982 Green serpentine

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Osuitok Ipeelee , Cape Dorset Print Studios (see further on ) Owl, Fox and Hare

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Jackoposie Oopakak (1948 – 2015) Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada Falcon

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Ulu knife, sun glasses A traditional Inuit all-purpose knife made with a caribou antler, muskox horn or walrus ivory handle and slate cutting surface .

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Clyde River, Nunavut, Canada Kamiks - Boots made of sealskin, with intricate design, revealing superb workmanship when turned inside out

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Baffin Island, Canada Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts and Crafts and Pangnirtung Tapestry Studio The Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts & Crafts opened in 1991 to serve the art community of Pangnirtung with facilities and equipment. Weaving was introduced in 1970 and has been flourishing since then.

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Pangnirtung Tapestry studio Sewing Kamiks

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Atungauja Eeseemailee, Pangnirtung Tapestry studio Spring Fishing, 1982

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Isaqkijaq , Rankin Inlet, Nunavut Woven Wall Hanging (decorating Nanuk Lodge)

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Annie Kilabuq Pangnirturg Print studio Joy of the Drum Dance

Pangnirtung, Baffin Island, Canada Pang hats:

Pangnirtung, Baffin Island, Canada Pang hats

Pangnirtung, Baffin Island, Canada Colourful clothing:

Pangnirtung, Baffin Island, Canada Colourful clothing

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Pangnirtung woman Kamiks

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Lyme Grass Baskets Inuit baskets are made of sea lyme grass, easy to obtain on the shore, at sandy beaches. Usually they are decorated at the top with a small ivory-carved piece . These baskets are examples of fine hand made inuit crafts, some of them in auction for a high price .

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Pond inlet, Baffin Island, Canada Basket with otter

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Pond inlet, Baffin Island, Canada Basket with bird

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Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, Canada   Basket with bird

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Sarah Appaqaq from , Pond inlet Basket with Inuk pulling catch

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Sarah Appaqaq from , Pond inlet Basket with Hawk

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Basket with Loon

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Minnie Carl Kipnuk, Alaska ( Yupik ) Grass basket

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Carl Toolak (Inupiak) Barrow, Alaska Basket with Bear

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Harry Hank Point Hope, Alaska Basket with Bear

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INUIT PRINTS Inuit printmaking art started in the late 1950‘s. The first collection was issued by the Inuit artists from Cape Dorset , Baffin Island, in 1960. The Kinngait Center then became a major school for graphic arts, producing a print collection and calendar each year.

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Founded in 1959, the Kinngait Co-op at Cape Dorset houses a graphic arts program that has been delivering fine prints for several museums. Inuit artists draw and paint animals and daily life themes like hunting, kayaking or dog-sledding, but they are also inspired by myths and fantasy.

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Mary Okheena, Holman, Nunavut Muskox in a storm, ink drawing

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Mayoreak Ashoona , b. 1946 Cape Dorset, Baffin Island, Canada Rabbits at Dawn (2006)

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Sedna’s Wonder   According to Inuit legend , Sedna is a sea goddess. Sedna was a young girl ; one day, her group was preparing to go hunting on the sea. As she went to climb into a kayak, some boys pushed her into the sea. She tried to hold onto the kayak to keep from drowning, but they chopped off her fingers and Sedna drowned. As she sank deeper into the sea, she began to transform into a half human, half sea animal. She was now a part of the world underwater; a sea goddess representing and protecting all sea creatures. Ningeokuluk Teevee , Cape Dorset, 2009

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Ivola Kingwatsiak , Cape Dorset The Loon’s Descent

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Kenojuak Ashevak (1927 - 2013) Canadian Inuit Printmaker, Cape Dorset, Nunavut, Canada She was the first and most acclaimed artist in the Dorset Print Co-op, a pioneer mainly dedicated to lithographies of arctic birds. She has works at all major Canadian museums.

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Kenojuak Ashevak Dancing Ravens

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Kenojuak Ashevak Birds over the Sun

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Kenojuak Ashevak Floral Passage

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A carver and printmaker, he lived in Cape Dorset since 1951; while running the West Baffin Co-op, he began making lithography prints and carving on stone and baleen ivory. Kananginak Pootoogook (1935 – 2010)

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Kananginak Pootoogook Cape Dorset Anxious Trio

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Kananginak Pootoogook Cape Dorset Kupanuak , 1975

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Kananginak Pootoogook Cape Dorset Three shore birds

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Ningeokuluk Teevee Cape Dorset, b. 1963 Since her first prints appeared, she has been one of most celebrated inuit artists. She has a comprehensive knowledge of Inuit legends, a fine sense of design and composition, and a really stunning imagination .

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Ningeokuluk Teevee Cape Dorset Craddled Loons

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Ningeokuluk Teevee C ape Dorset Owls in Moonlight

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Ningeokuluk Teevee Cape Dorset Three Owls

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Ningeokuluk Teevee C ape Dorset Seasonal Migration

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Ningeokuluk Teevee, C ape Dorset Crosscurrent , 2005

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Tim Pitsiulak (1967-2016) b. Kimmirut Tim lived in Cape Dorset for several years, teaching and working in the Kinngait lithography studio. The land and its wildlife were his primary influences. Lately he had begun drawing large format works .

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Tim Pitsiulak , Cape Dorset Bowhead in Amautik

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Tim Pitsiulak C ape Dorset, Baffin Island Seasonal Migration, 2016

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Tim Pitsiulak C ape Dorset Kanguit Tulaat

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Tim Pistulak , Cape Dorset Three Running Caribous

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Tim Pistulak , Cape Dorset Vigilant Wolves, 2010

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The world's first sunglasses were built by the Inuit from bone, leather or wood with small slits see through, designed to protect the eyes from snowblindness caused by the bright spring sunlight. These first snow goggles are said to date back 2000 years to a culture known as Old Bering Sea , who lived around the west coast of Alaska and were the ancestors ofthe modern Inuit. The snow goggles came to Canada with the Thule culture about 800 years ago. This example, an artifact of the Thule people from north Baffin, was crafted from walrus ivory and dates back to between 1200 AD and 1600 AD.

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Kimmirut, Baffin Island, Nunavut Souvenir plaque Ivory and black ink

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Kinngait Studios for Inuit Art Cape Dorset , Nunavut, Canada

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The End

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©Mario Ricca, 2017 Some sources: Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts and Crafts Dorset Fine Arts Inuit Gallery, Vancouver Ulukhaktok Arts Center, Holman Polar bear Hide > Ningeokuluk Teevee

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