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Inuit Hunter by Adamie of Povungnituk

Eskimo Figure by Adamie of Povungnetuk

The word ‘art’ does not exist in the Inuit language, the concept is too abstract for a language in which every word has a highly specific meaning. For example, the word for ‘carving’, sanannguagaq, contains semantic elements which together convey the sense of ‘making something in miniature’. Traditional Inuit carvings, for the most part, remain on a small scale and their subject matter relates to an oral tradition, reflecting the former nomadic lifestyle and activities associated with it. While images relating to domestic life, shamanism and mythology sometimes appear, one of the major themes is hunting, thus carvings of hunters, polar bears, seals, walrus and caribou, as well as fish and birds, predominate.

In the case of the above work its maker, Adamie, was drawing on his own former experience as a hunter, evoking the physical demands of capturing an Arctic prey - possibly hauling on the line of a harpooned fish or seal.