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Stone sculpture of a seated woman, with a baby on her back, tying a bag with rope.

Culture

Woman Carrying her Baby on her Back Trussing (2008), Noah Echalook, Inukjuak, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

From Daily Life to the Supernatural

Sculpture in Nunavik, an Ancestral Tradition

Internationally known for the quality of their work and their creativity, the stone carvers of Nunavik use their dexterity and imagination to recount tales, whether from the past or the present, about nature, daily life or the supernatural.

From the time of the Dorsets, the people of Nunavik have skilfully crafted material into objects such as harpoon heads, needles, oil lamps and snow knives that are sometimes decorated with geometric motifs or scenes of daily life. They also sculpted figurines in the shape of humans, animals and mythical beings.

With the arrival of Europeans, objects began to be made specifically for trade. Craftspeople produced ivory miniatures that could adorn firearms, as well as tools and musical instruments. Over the course of the 20th century, these pieces were made in increasing numbers, while the array of traditional tools began to be complemented by modern machinery, when necessary.

Today, Nunavik artists use minerals such as soapstone, alabaster, argillite and serpentine, as well as organic material like antler, ivory, bone, leather and animal fur.

Evoking distant horizons, traditions and myths, this gallery presents a selection of works by artists from diverse communities.

Stone sculpture depicting a man clinging to the edge of a cliff using ropes, with a large bird perched at the top.
Untitled (2005), Johnny Sivuarapik, Puvirnituq
11,7 x 6 x 3 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Stone sculpture depicting three back-to-back human heads, each looking in its peripheral direction, with fantastic appearance.
Untitled (2005), George Pilurtut, Kangiqsujuaq
10 x 10 x 12 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Stone sculpture depicting a large bovine animal, a musk ox, in profile.
Untitled (2006), Noah Echalook, Inukjuak
18,5 x 21,5 x 12 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Stone sculpture depicting a woman dressed in a traditional garment, holding a baby in front of her in a carrier.
Untitled (2007), Bobby Aupaluktuk, Inukjuak
20 x 15 x 7 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Stone sculpture depicting a giant attacking a kneeling woman.
Untitled (2004), Samson Kingalik, Inukjuak
21 x 11,5 x 8 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

«A long time ago, there existed tiny beings. One of them, Kautjajuapik, became very big. He was treated badly by his family. His clothes tore when he became so big. He murdered many except for two women that would look out for him. Kautjajuapik's relatives would say that he is only good to throw out to the polar bears. So when a polar bear arrived unexpectedly, he killed everyone instead of being thrown out as food.» (artist's text)

Stone sculpture of a seated woman, with a baby on her back, tying a bag with rope.
Woman Carrying her Baby on her Back Trussing (2008), Noah Echalook, Inukjuak
12 x 20 x 11 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Ivory sculpture depicting a beluga whale and a walrus along a walrus tusk.
Untitled (2008), Daniel Annanack, Kangiqsualujjuaq
13 x 5,5 x 3,3 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Green stone sculpture depicting a polar bear with twisting body and head facing the sky.
Untitled (date unknown), Adamie Anautak, Akulivik
22 x 29 x 10 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Sculpture with mixed materials, representing a human made of caribou antler, standing near a boat, made from a mollusc shell.
Untitled (2002), Aisa Amittuk, Akulivik
17 x 14 x 8 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Stone sculpture showing three people aboard a kayak, with one of the men lying flat on his stomach in front of the boat.
Untitled (2006), Joshua Sala, Umiujaq
13 x 50 x 32 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Stone sculpture depicting a woman in traditional clothing, with a baby in her hood and holding a child by the hand.
Untitled (2005), Daniel Inukpuk, Inukjuak
26 x 25 x 22 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Stone sculpture depicting a man fishing, pulling fish caught with his line of water.
Untitled (2006), Jobie Uqaituk, Inukjuak
17 x 28 x 7 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Stone sculpture depicting a bearded man in winter clothing, manipulating a bow while pulling the rope.
Untitled (1999), Jayie Pilurtut, Kangiqsujuaq
12 x 10 x 8 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Stone sculpture depicting a mermaid, half-woman and half-fish, holding a child in her arms.
Untitled (2007), Adamie Anautak, Akulivik
36 x 18 x 9 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Stone sculpture depicting a mythological being, half man and half wolf, devouring a caribou at its feet.
Untitled (2007), Lucassie Echalook, Inukjuak
25 x 28 x 12 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

«Legends have it that animals used to become half humans and half animals. Like wolves prey on caribou and other animals to survive, this sculpture is an image of such half human and half animal. Other legends also have been told like this one.» (artist's text)

Sculpture made from a caribou antler, illustrating seals under water, along its ramifications.
Untitled (2007), Peter Morgan, Kangiqsualujjuaq
28 X 24 x 8 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Antler sculpture depicting the head of an animal resembling a bovid, such as a muskox.
Untitled (2007), Adamie Amamatuak, Akulivik
34 x 38 x 36 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Sculpture in caribou antler, representing a dog sledding crew pulling a sled with a man on board.
Untitled (2007), Johnny Morgan, Kangiqsualujjuaq
10 x 38 x 8 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Sculpture in antler, representing two birds resembling terns, protecting a nest containing eggs.
Untitled (2007), Johnny Morgan, Kangiqsualujjauq
10 x 30 x 20 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Sculpture of stone representing the stylized silhouette of two women, face to face, making throat singing.
Untitled (2004), Timothy Amittuk, Puvirnituq
43 x 18 x 15 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Stone sculpture representing a woman approached and touched by a man against her will.
Untitled (2007), Lucassie Echalook, Inukjuak
23 x 21 x 8 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

«Those two, a man and a woman, represent this story. It used to be and still is today that when a man wants to marry a woman and asks for her hand in marriage, sometimes she will not accept his proposal and sometimes, like here, this woman does not really want this man and is relunctant. That is the meaning of this. This woman is resisting a little this man because it is her first time being approached and touched physically. Thank you if you understood.» (artist's text)

Sculpture of mixed stones, representing a man playing a drum, while a walrus and a polar bear are dancing of joy around two igloos.
Qumaq Sooasie (2005), Mosusie Naluiyuk, Akulivik
10 x 38 x 17 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

«This carving is based on a true story told by Mosusie Naluiyuk of Salluit.

Qumaq Soasie and Family, two wives and two sons from Putjunait (Mansel Island) wanted to cross towards inland to the Hudson's Bay coast, Quebec, in mid-winter. They left fleeing from the people living on the island who started a religion. That religion had started well but had gone bad because someone was murdered. They got scared for their safety and went on the sea ice to cross.

On their way, they spent the night in a small igloo and the ice broke. So they were floating on a piece of ice in the open water with their igloo. When the ice broke he got separated from one of his wives and never saw her again. His sons Peter Nowya and the younger son Thomasi Mangiok were quite young but remember losing their mother.

Qumaq's other wife took care of the two young boys while on the sea. A long time went by. Then Qunaq saw land while his wife and two sons were still inside the igloo. Qumaq of great joy started to drum dance. Behind their igloo was a walrus and a polar bear. Even the polar bear was in great joy as Qumaq sang "Aija! What joy ijaa! We will go on the land!".» (artist's text)

Sculpture of stone and antler, representing a polar bear whose spirit flies over it and becomes a place inhabited by a shaman.
From Where the Shaman Stands Comes a Spirit Bear (2006), Mattiusi Iyaituk, Ivujivik
40 x 27 x 14 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

Stone sculpture depicting a giant brutalizing normal-sized humans to steal a seal from them.
Legend of Sikuliaksiujuittuq (2007), Johnny Kakutuk, Akulivik
26 x 34 x 22 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

«This carving is a legend story about Sikuliaksiujuittuq, the one who can never go on fresh sea ice. Because he was exceptionally large he could only be on solid ice. He would bully normal sized men checking the sleeves of their parka to see if they had stains. It meant that they had caught seal. So he would wait on the solid ice to snatch the seals from the hunters.» (artist's text)

Wooden sculpture depicting a bird of prey on the verge of flying.
Untitled (2006), Tivi Kiatainak, Ivujivik
19 X 28 X 19 cm, FCNQ Inuit Art Collection

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