Art Of The Qalupalik

The other day when I was talking on Facebook about my obsession with the Wendigo, a friend from Baffin Island mentioned to me the Inuit myth of Qalupalik. (Since I learned how to pronounce Qalupalik I haven’t been able to stop saying it to myself! It’s such a wonderful word to say aloud.)

The Qalupalik is a human-like creature that dwells in the frigid waters of the Arctic. She has masses of dark, wild hair, greenish skin and fingernails so long they appear more like claws.

She wears an amauti – a traditional Inuit parka with a special built-in pouch at the back for a child to be carried around in. When a mother wears it, its function is to bond with the child and keep them safe from frostbite. When a Qalupalik wears it however, it’s to carry away children who disobey their parents by playing on unstable sea ice and wandering off by themselves.

One way you will know if a Qalupalik is waiting in ambush is if you hear a distinctive humming sound. People say different things about what Qalupalik does with the children she steals away. Some say she wants to eat them, while others suggest she raises them as her own. Though one of the most interesting things I’ve heard is that she puts them to sleep, and steals their vitality – as the children get older, she grows younger.

After the artworks, you will find a beautifully made animation about the legend of the  Qalupalik that is well worth watching.

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Have you ever disobeyed your elders 😜? Have you ever played too close to the floe edge? You’re lucky a Qalupalik didn't get you 😱! • Today's #artistspotlight 🔦 is on David Ruben Piqtoukun, a talented carver and printmaker from Paulatuk, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT and his spooky sculpture "Qalupalik Holding a Head." Piqtoukun's work often engages with Inuit mythology and stories collected from elders, such as the tale of Qalupalik who snatch children that disobey their elders and play too close to the water 🌊. I don't know about you but we're convinced to never misbehave again 👼! Learn more about #DavidRubenPiqtoukun and his artistic practice by visiting his profile online! #InuitArt #Paulatuk #Carving #Printmaking #Qalupalik 📷 David Ruben Piqtoukun "Qalupalik Holding a Head" (1994) Courtesy Waddington's

A post shared by Inuit Art Foundation (@inuitartfoundation) on

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Artist unknown.
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Artist unknown.
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Artist : Joy Ang
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Artist unknown.

 

1 thought on “Art Of The Qalupalik”

  1. […] Through this little – but dynamic – collection of art, I’ve been introduced to several celebrated Inuit artists including Ningeokuluk Teevee, Tim Pitsiulak and Papiara Tukiki. It was a real thrill to find the Qalupalik in there. (September.) This creature which dwells in the waters of the Arctic and snatches children who venture to close to the water’s edge has been a source of fascination for ages. (I’ve written more about her here.) […]

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