Sedna Tupilak




Sedna is a pan-Arctic mythological figure. Human in origin, she is referred to by many different names, but her role remainsthe same. She controls the mammals andsh and has the power to withhold themfrom the hunters if she is displeased. This is an interesting depiction of the Inuit sea goddess as it is presented with the style characteristics of a traditional Tupilak; certainly not as benign as many of the depictions from the Canadian Arctic. The protrusion from the Tupilak head is a stylised seal suggesting that, despite the fusion of styles, Sedna is still clearly in control of the animals of the sea.

The Inuit of Greenland traditionally shared many of the artistic expressions found in the Canadian Arctic. Small figures and amulets were fashioned out of antler and ivory while graphic expression was limited to tattoo marks, clothing patterns and decoration on tools. However, the dominating influence of Europeans came centuries earlierthan in the Canadian Arctic so that Greenlandic art became a mix of Inuit traditional artists expression with western style. The one form of traditional art which survived is the tupilak. Once an important part of Greenlandic religious beliefs these shaman/monster depictions were considered immensely powerful and mystical. Over the last half century, the distinctive characteristics of traditional tupilaks, such as animal like form, clutching hands and large mouths have become popular. The tradition carries on through today with several of the Inuit communities still creating these complex, strange sculptures.